British Airways plane catches fire in Las Vegas, two injured

Cause of the fire has been described by airiline officials as being due to a "technical issue"

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A British Airways jet caught fire as it was preparing to take off from Las Vegas, prompting the crew to abort takeoff and evacuate terrified passengers.

"There were 159 passengers and 13 crew on the flight," McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas said.

It added that seven people on board were treated for minor injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the fire broke out in the left engine of the 257-seat Boeing 777 shortly after 4:00 pm (2300 GMT) and the crew immediately aborted takeoff and ordered an evacuation.

"Passengers deplaned on the runway using emergency slides and (were) bused to the terminal," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told AFP.

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"The aircraft, a 777-200 experienced a technical issue as it was preparing for takeoff from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas" heading for London.

British Airways, which said there were two fewer passengers on board, also described the cause of the fire as being due to a "technical issue."

"Our crew evacuated the aircraft safely and the fire was quickly extinguished by the emergency services at the airport," a company statement said. "A small number of customers and our crew have been taken to hospital as a precaution."

An AFP correspondent at the airport said the blaze was quickly put out by some 50 firefighters who rushed to the site within minutes along with other emergency vehicles.

Passengers described scenes of panic on the plane with one witness saying there was "a lot of screaming" as fumes filled the cabin and the crew deployed the emergency slides.

Some of the passengers posted dramatic images and videos that showed plumes of smoke and flames engulfing the aircraft.