Fifteen hurt in scramble after Gatwick emergency landing

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A scramble by passengers trying to escape from an airliner that had to make an emergency landing after smoke was reported in the cabin led to 15 people being taken to hospital.

Flights in and out of London's Gatwick Airport had to be suspended for two hours after Virgin Atlantic flight VS27, bound for Orlando and carrying 301 passengers, was forced to turn back at around midday – just 10 minutes after takeoff.

Passengers described how inflatable exit slides were deployed soon after the Airbus A330 touched down, but the rush to use them led to many people suffering suspected broken bones. One passenger, Tom Aldridge, said the panic led to one stewardess "literally pushing people down the chute". "She was screaming 'Get off, get off!'" he said. He added that "there was a big pile of bodies at the bottom where people were just landing on top of each other and there were quite a few injuries".

Another passenger, Kirsty Bonwick, added many were hurt "scraping their arms and legs" on the runway after sliding off the end of the chute.

Virgin said it was investigating the cause of the accident.