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British Airways Jet Makes Emergency Landing after False Warning

November 21, 1985

LONDON (AP) _ A British Airways jumbo jet with 351 people aboard made an emergency landing today in the mid-Atlantic Azores on a flight from the Caribbean to London today after a false warning of a fire, an airline spokesman said.

All 351 people on board safely evacuated the jet down emergency chutes within one minute, said David Snelling, a British Airways spokesman in London. He said there was no fire.

Snelling said two passengers, a man and a woman, were injured slightly, apparently during the evacuation. Both were being treated at a hospital, one for chest pains and the other for scratches and bruises.

Portugal’s state-run news agency, ANOP, reported from Lisbon that nine passengers were injured, none seriously. But Snelling said reports from the scene indicated only the two passengers were hurt.

Snelling said the Boeing 747 was flying over the Atlantic Ocean from Barbados to London when a cockpit warning light came on, indicating a fire in the cargo hold.

The jet was diverted to joint Portuguese-U.S. Lajes Air Base, on Terceira Island in the Azores, about 1,000 miles off the western coast of Portugal, where it made an emergency landing 15 minutes after the warning light went on, Snelling said.

He said it was discovered after landing that there had been no fire.

He said all 334 passengers and 17 crew members were evacuated down the jet’s eight emergency chutes and were out of the plane within one minute. The plane landed at 7:45 a.m., he said.

The flight, BA256, originated in the island of St. Lucia on Wednesday and had stopped in Barbados before heading for London. Passengers and crew were taken to a hotel to await another plane being sent from London to complete their journey later in the day, Snelling said.

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