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August 6, 2009

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Passengers escape jet engine fire amid panic

PANICKED passengers scrambled and pushed to the exits of an Airbus 320 preparing to carry 165 passengers from Paris to Spain after an engine suddenly caught fire yesterday, a passenger said.

Eight passengers were chafed from using the emergency exit slides and were treated by airport personnel at Orly airport, Vueling airline and French police said. Some other passengers were treated for shock.

Vueling Flight 9127, was preparing to leave for Alicante in southeastern Spain when the fire broke out at 10:36am.

"Before getting out, everybody was panicking inside the plane. When people heard about the incident, everybody was pushing each other to get out and eventually everybody went down the emergency slides," Arantza Urrejola, 38, a passenger said.

The fire broke out as the plane was disengaging from the boarding ramp, said Helen Courcoul, chief of staff at the Val de Marne prefecture.

Jose Luis Casado, a representative of the Spanish carrier Iberia, which owns nearly half of Vueling, said that a ground employee had spotted liquid leaking from one of the engines as it was starting. The employee sounded an alert, but the fire broke out soon after.

The decision was made to use the emergency slides and not wait for the boarding ramp to be put back in place to evacuate the passengers, Casado said.

Firemen rushed to the scene and quickly put out the blaze. There was no damage to airport facilities or to other nearby aircraft.


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