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Gas fumes prompt emergency landing of plane from BWI; 7 taken to hospital


A Maryland man was one of seven passengers treated for chemical inhalation yesterday after the plane they were taking from Baltimore to Chicago was forced to make an emergency landing in Fort Wayne, Ind., because of reported gas fumes.

Keith Wilson, 38, of the first block of Jackson Manor Court in Phoenix and six other adults were treated at Lutheran Hospital of Indiana and released yesterday afternoon, said Alice Robinson, a hospital spokeswoman. Wilson could not be reached for comment.

US Airways' Flight 1177 left Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 7: 45 a.m. en route to Chicago's O'Hare Airport, said David Castleveter, an airline spokesman. The Boeing 737-200 was near capacity with 88 passengers and five crew members.

"While it was in the vicinity of Fort Wayne, the passengers in the cabin reported a strong, irritating-type odor," Castleveter said, adding that there was no smoke visible.

The pilot requested an emergency landing at 9: 20 a.m., 25 miles southeast of Fort Wayne, said Don Zochert, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Chicago. The plane landed 13 minutes later.

FAA officials are investigating, Zochert said.

Several local fire departments responded to the airport, said Sandra Lux, an airport spokeswoman. "There were quite a few vehicles and personnel to deal with the situation," she said.

Castleveter said 24 passengers were treated at the scene for throat irritation. "It was a strong odor," he said.

After waiting until the plane was deemed safe, Castleveter said, the passengers were put on other planes to Chicago. Maintenance crews were flown in from Pittsburgh to inspect the plane, Castleveter added.

Pub Date: 1/16/99

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