Stefan Wermuth / Reuters
A worker walks past a British Airways passenger jet after it was towed off the runway following an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport west of London on May 24, 2013.
LONDON - Europe’s busiest airport was disrupted for several hours Friday after a British Airways plane made an emergency landing at Heathrow with a fire in at least one engine.
Thousands of travelers were delayed or diverted to other London airports following the incident, shortly after 8 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET).
All 75 passengers were safely evacuated from the Airbus A319 using emergency chutes, but one of the airport’s two runways was closed for almost two hours and the other was also briefly shut.
Heathrow: Second runway back in operation but expect heavy delays as they catch-up ow.ly/llY0j— EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) May 24, 2013
Significant delays and disruption were expected for the rest of the day at Heathrow, and British Airways said it was canceling all its short-haul flights – to the UK, Europe and parts of north Africa – until 4 p.m. local time Friday (11 a.m. ET).
The stricken jet suffered technical problems as it took off for Oslo, Norway, and was forced to return for an emergency landing.
Eyewitnesses reported smoke billowing from the right hand engine as the jet made its approach over south-west London.
In a statement, British Airways said Flight BA762 had suffered a "technical fault," but fire officials said they had extinguished a blaze.
Amateur video of the aircraft in the air showed smoke coming from one engine, and a picture posted to Twitter by one of the passengers after landing showed the aircraft covered in fire-retardant foam.
One crew from Heathrow fire station is assisting Heathrow Airport's fire service with an aircraft fire. We believe the fire is now out.— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) May 24, 2013
The incident will likely cause disruption for families getting away over the school holiday, which starts on Monday. Britain also has a public holiday on Monday, adding to the number of travelers using Heathrow.
"We were able to reopen the northern runway within two hours of the incident and we are now focused on returning the airport to normal as quickly as possible," Heathrow's duty manager Mark Freeman told Reuters.
David Wyllie, breakingnews.com, and Reuters, contributed to this report.
This story was originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 4:30 AM EDT