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Chemical Reaction Aboard Evacuation Of Passengers

February 4, 1988

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A toxic chemical stored improperly aboard an American Airlines jet heated up the floor and spread fumes through the cabin Wednesday, injuring at least 12 people, an airline spokeswoman said.

The 119 passengers on the Dallas-to-Nashville flight evacuated the MD-80 jet by emergency chutes upon landing, said American spokeswoman Susan Robbins.

Twelve people were treated at Donelson Hospital for smoke inhalation, and four were admitted, two in serious condition, said Gloria Keel, a hospital spokeswoman.

″The cause of the problem was a toxic chemical that was improperly labeled in the cargo hold. It was labeled as laundry equipment and it turned out it was a chemical that should not have been on the plane,″ Ms. Robbins said.

She said the substance, stored in a cardboard container weighing 104 pounds, underwent a chemical reaction.

″It wasn’t a fire, but it caused a pungent odor and feelings of heat. It caused the floor of the cabin to get warm, and the flight attendants noticed it as they were coming in for a landing,″ Ms. Robbins said.

Passengers also said there was smoke in the cabin. Firefighters had to chop a hole in the plane floor to douse the chemical with water.

Ms. Robbins would not identify the chemical and said she did not know the extent of its danger.

The airline, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating how the chemical got in the hold, and will talk with those who shipped it and those to whom it was addressed, she said.

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