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firefighters respond to children doused with jet fuel
Scott Varley | Media News Group | Torrance Daily Breeze via Business Insider

Plane Douses School Children with Jet Fuel Before Emergency Landing

Elementary school children were doused with jet fuel by a plane that was returning to Los Angeles on Tuesday morning. The plane was headed to LAX when it suddenly had to turn around to make an emergency landing.

A Near Miss for the Plane and Passengers

Delta Flight 89 had 140 passengers on board and was on its way to Shanghai, China, from LAX. When it was forced to return shortly after takeoff, it released an unknown amount of jet fuel over an elementary school in Cudahy. This resulted in dozens of both children and adults being doused in the liquid.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said that there were two classes outside the Park Avenue Elementary school when the fuel was released. The aircraft was only about 2,300 feet over the school when it passed over around 11:53 am that day, and according to plane tracker FlightRadar24, it never went above 8,000 feet during its entire flight.

What Caused the Emergency Landing?

A statement was issued by Delta Air Lines on Tuesday evening that said, “Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX.”

“The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight,” Delta’s statement reads.

“Delta is in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department as well as community leaders, and shares concerns regarding reports of minor injuries to adults and children at schools in the area.”

How Did the School Faculty and Children React?

While children were out playing during physical education, they first thought that they were simply feeling rain… until they noticed the odor. A sixth-grader, Josue Burgos, said, “We came out and we were playing, and the airplane was outside. We thought it was rain, but then we knew it was throwing gas on us, and everybody started to run.”

In all, there were 60 patients total who had to be treated because of the fuel exposure, and more than 70 paramedics and firefighters arrived on scene to assist the children and adults affected.

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Maisie Peterson