The plane’s emptying of its fuel injured about 20 children and 10 adults in the yard of an elementary school, with skin irritation and slight breathing difficulties, but all their injuries were minor, according to Sky News.A spokesman for the airline told AFP that the flight “Delta 89” was heading to Shanghai, China, when it “faced engine problems” shortly after takeoff, forcing it to return to Los Angeles airport.
He added that the plane landed safely, but before that it emptied its tanks of fuel “as stipulated in the procedures followed”, with the intention of reducing its cargo and reducing risks in the event it was forced to implement an emergency landing.
Quantities of this fuel fell over the Kodahi Elementary School, 25 km east of Los Angeles Airport.
The Los Angeles Educational District said that the students and a number of school staff were in the yard when the plane emptied its fuel, and that “they may have been exposed to fuel mist or inhaled its fumes.”
Likewise, the fuel that the plane emptied from “relatively low”, according to the fire brigades, also hit another school located south of Los Angeles, but without any of its students or employees affected.
The US Civil Aviation Surveillance Agency (FAA) was quick to announce that it had opened an investigation into the accident.
The agency said in a tweet on Twitter that “there are specific measures related to the discharge of jet fuel leaving or coming from all major US airports.”
She added that “these procedures stipulate that the fuel must be emptied into well-defined uninhabited areas, usually at high altitudes, so that the fuel evaporates and disperses before touching the ground.”