Firefighters have treated 56 children and adults for minor injuries after a passenger jet landing at Los Angeles International airport apparently dumped fuel on school playgrounds.
“(Firefighters) working to confirm substance dropped by aircraft although initial reports stated smell of jet fuel in area,” The Los Angeles County Fire Department said on Twitter.
The department said in a second tweet that “70 firefighters and paramedics on-scene and committed to providing care for those injured”.
People were treated for minor skin and lung irritation and no one was taken to hospital.
The fuel sprayed out of the plane in two lines and the strong-smelling vapour landed in the city of Cudahy and parts of Los Angeles County, around 21 kilometres east of the airport.
The Los Angeles Unified School District told the Associated Press its Park Avenue Elementary campus in Cudahy and 93rd Street Elementary had “direct impacts from the fuel.”
The AP reported 31 children and adults were affected at Park Avenue, and 12 at 93rd Street. The rest of those affected were at other schools.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sky Cornell told the Associated Press that five elementary schools were affected by the fuel dump.
Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai “experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return quickly to LAX” shortly after takeoff, the company said in a statement.
“The aircraft landed safely after release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight,” Delta said. It did not release details about the engine problem.
The LA Times said police could be seen driving behind the jet with sirens as it landed at LAX. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was investigating.
“There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major US airport,” the FAA said in a statement.
“These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomises and disperses before it reaches the ground,” it said.