KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Maintenance teams were evaluating a JetBlue plane at a Jamaican airport on Tuesday, a day after the Florida-bound jetliner was forced to return to the island because the flight crew smelled smoke minutes after takeoff.
Alfred McDonald, a senior director at Jamaica's Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, said assessments of the Embraer 190 plane were still being completed and officials didn't yet have a full picture of what happened Monday night.
"What we do know is that the pilot detected smoke and decided to make the good decision to return," said McDonald, adding he was not sure if the smoky odor or smoke was noticed in the cabin.
The Fort Lauderdale-bound plane with 98 passengers and four crew members returned to the airport some 15 minutes after takeoff. Other flights were delayed for about two hours due to the emergency landing.
Passengers disembarked the plane via emergency slides that were deployed when the 100-seat commercial jet came to a stop on the runway, according to JetBlue spokeswoman Real Hamilton-Romeo.
Six passengers were taken to medical facilities in Kingston, where five of them were quickly treated and released. But Hamilton-Romeo said the New York-based carrier could not say how these passengers were injured or confirm the sixth person's status due to patient confidentiality rules. Their nationalities were not clear.
According to McDonald, a few passengers were apparently hurt when sliding down the emergency chutes or trying to access them. He said the most serious injury was a broken ankle.
"Some persons I believe wanted to exit much faster so there was a kind of confusion which would have resulted in minor injuries to individuals," he said.
Radio Jamaica interviewed one male passenger who said there was "a lot of loud praying going on" and "individuals were having panic attacks."
Passengers were transferred to a replacement plane on Tuesday morning.
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