At least 13 people have been taken to hospital with minor injuries after British Airways flight 2776 to London Gatwick caught fire at Las Vegas airport, airport officials said.
In total 172 people, including 159 passengers and 13 crew members, were forced to evacuate the Boeing 777-200 on emergency slides. It is thought most of the injuries were sustained while sliding down inflatable chutes during the evacuation.
British Airways said:
The aircraft, a 777-200 experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for take-off from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport.
A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to hospital.
The airline has since apologised in a letter to passengers, saying: "We do not underestimate how distressing the experience has been for you."
The US Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Ian Gregor said authorities believed the left engine of the aircraft caught fire shortly before take off.
The airport tweeted that flames were spotted at 4:14pm local time, and the response team had the situation under control within just minutes.
Heavy smoke was visible from the aircraft:
The airport tweeted a picture showing the extent of the damage to the plane after the fire was put out.
One passenger, Jacob Steinberg, said the plane came to a "crashing halt"
Was asleep as the plane took off. Came to a crashing halt. Smell of smoke. Initially told to stay seated, then shout of evacuate.— Jacob Steinberg (@JacobSteinberg) September 8, 2015
Officials have since said one runway has been shut down, but three others continued to operate.
Audio of air traffic control during the incident can be heard below: