A Delta flight injured more than 50 people after dumping fuel on a Los Angeles schoolyard and school buildings when it declared an emergency shortly after departing for China from the Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.
At least 20 children were were treated for minor injuries after being exposed to the jet fuel, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The department said it had a total of 44 patients from four schools: Park Avenue Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, Graham Elementary and San Gabriel Avenue Elementary.
Another 16 people were treated from two schools, Jordan High School and 93rd Elementary, which were also exposed to jet fuel, the Los Angeles City Fire Department said.
No one was transported from the schools to hospitals and there were no evacuation orders in place.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
The school district also confirmed that students and staff were being treated for skin irritation or breathing problems after being exposed to the fuel.
“Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes,” the Los Angeles Unified School District said.
Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics
Delta Flight 89 to Shanghai experienced an engine issue that required it to return to LAX shortly after takeoff, the company confirmed in a statement. The plane landed safely after the fuel release, which the airline said was required as part of the procedure.
“We are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the LA County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area,” Delta said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was looking into the reports that school children were being treated for fuel exposure.
The FAA also said that there are special fuel-dumping procedures for any aircraft operating from any major U.S. airport: “These procedures call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.”
LAX confirmed that it was aware of the Delta flight reporting a mechanical issue and conducting an “emergency fuel release” before returning.
“We are concerned about reports of impacts on the ground from the fuel release, and are in close communication with Delta and first responders as their investigations continue,” the airport said on its Twitter account.