Delta Boeing 777 Destined for Shanghai Dumps Fuel on School Children During Emergency Return to LAX

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More than two dozen elementary school kids at a school near Los Angeles International Airport were evaluated Tuesday after a passenger jet dumped fuel during an emergency approach (CBSN Los Angeles reports).

Los Angeles County firefighter/paramedics, Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter/paramedics and area law enforcement responded just after 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 14, 2020 to a report that jet fuel was dropped from an aircraft on children at multiple schools near Los Angeles International Airport. Eventually, seventy LA County firefighters and paramedics responded to the multi-casualty incident. The incident was also described as a hazmat incident. The first calls came from Park Avenue Elementary School in the block of 8000 Park Avenue, Cudahy, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Sixty victims at six schools in the Los Angeles area were affected by jet fuel exposure, and were treated for minor injuries. Among the thirty-one patients, 20 children and 11 adults complained of minor injuries related to skin and eye irritation. Students complained of having itchy skin and eyes, and sore throats. All of the patients refused transportation to hospitals, according to both fire departments.

People in the area complained of a noxious odor caused by the jet fuel. Many students walking away from the school in Cudahy were seen covering their noses with their hands or clothing. Residents around Park Avenue Elementary reported being able to feel liquid on their vehicles while touching vehicle surfaces with their fingers.

In addition to the Park Avenue incident, LA County fire crews also treated patients at San Gabriel Avenue and Tweedy elementary schools, both in South Gate, and one patient at Graham Elementary School in Florence-Graham.

The Los Angeles Fire Department (City) also responded to Jordan High School in Florence-Firestone and the 93rd Street Elementary School in Green Meadows, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department (city).

The Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatched a multi-casualty trailer, and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Office of Environment Health and Safety was also dispatched.

Officials determined that Delta Air Lines Flight 89 dropped fuel over the schools and at least one school playground at an altitude that allowed the fuel to reach the ground before evaporating and/or atomizing. Fuel-dumping procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the jet fuel atomizes and disperses before reaching the ground, according to the FAA. Flight 89 had just departed LAX, and was destined for Shanghai, but was forced to return to LAX with an engine problem. The flight crew on the Delta Boeing 777 passenger jet dumped a significant load of jet fuel while returning to LAX for the emergency landing.

The flight crew landed the aircraft safely at LAX.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, the agency said in a statement on their official Twitter account.

LAFD reported that the aircraft “passed over the school at a relatively low altitude.” Flight Radar 24, an Internet service that monitors aircraft flights worldwide, reported the aircraft climbed to 7,775 feet and began a descent less than three minutes after takeoff.

“I am distraught to learn that an airplane returning to LAX has dropped engine fuel on children at schools, including Park Avenue Elementary School in the City of Cudahy, and Tweedy Elementary School in the City of South Gate, among others. My office is working diligently to ensure the County deploys an adequate emergency response to the site of this unfortunate incident. We have also been in communication with elected representatives, Los Angeles Unified School District, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Our County Departments, including the LA County Department of Public Health, LA County Fire Department’s Health Hazardous Materials Division, LA County Department of Mental Health, and the Office of Emergency Management, are taking the necessary action to quickly respond to this emergency,”

— Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis

Two thick vapor trails streaming from the wingtips were captured by photojournalist Matt Hartman, when he estimated the aircraft’s altitude at about 7,000. Hartman (Shorealone Films) is a freelance news photojournalist, an aerospace photographer, and an AP Freelance Photographer.

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