Jet dumps fuel on school in midair emergency; over 50 injured

National News

In this photo from video, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China dumps fuel over Los Angeles before returning to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Fire officials say fuel apparently dumped by the aircraft returning to LAX fell onto an elementary school playground. A fire department tweet says firefighters are assessing “multiple patients” at the school in the suburban city of Cudahy, Calif. The flight tracking website FlightAware shows that Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China, departed LAX, circled back over Southern California and returned to the airport. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)

Los Angeles, Calif. (NBC)(01/15/20)— Scores of people were exposed to jet fuel or fumes Tuesday when a Delta flight was forced to dump fuel over a Los Angeles schoolyard and school buildings during an emergency shortly after departing Los Angeles International Airport.

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department, at least 20 children were treated for minor injuries after being exposed to the jet fuel.

The department said more than 60 people were treated from seven schools in the area.

No one was taken to a hospital, and there were no evacuation orders.

The school district confirmed that students and staff were being treated for skin irritation and breathing problems after being exposed to the fuel.

“Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes,” the Los Angeles Unified School District said.

Fire officials said they did not expect there to be any significant side effects.

Delta Flight 89, on its way to Shanghai, experienced an engine issue that required it to return to LAX shortly after takeoff, the company said in a statement. The plane landed safely after the fuel release, which the airline said was required as part of the procedure.

“We are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area,” Delta said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was looking into the reports that school children were being treated for fuel exposure.

The FAA also said that there are special fuel-dumping procedures for any aircraft operating from any major U.S. airport: “These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.”

LAX confirmed that it was aware of the Delta flight reporting a mechanical issue and conducting an “emergency fuel release” before returning.

“We are concerned about reports of impacts on the ground from the fuel release, and are in close communication with Delta and first responders as their investigations continue,” the airport said on its Twitter account.

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