British Airways fire: Passengers evacuate on emergency slides as London-bound plane engulfed in flames

A British Airways plane bound for London has caught fire during take-off at Las Vegas airport, forcing 172 people to escape on emergency slides.

Footage showed flames and smoke engulfing the plane at McCarran International Airport in Nevada, sending passengers fleeing from the aircraft.

All of the 159 passengers and 13 crew were evacuated safely.

Officials said at least 13 people had to be treated for minor injuries.

The aircraft, a 275-seat Boeing B777-200, was due to fly from Las Vegas' McCarran airport to London Gatwick today.

Ian Payne, who was on board the flight, told ITV News there was "pandemonium" as people tried to evacuate.

He said there was a "stampede" as people rushed to the emergency exits and one woman had her head trampled on, with some passengers crying and screaming.

Jacob Steinberg - a journalist at the Guardian - described the terrifying moment he woke up to the smell of smoke.

He said the pilot had told evacuated passengers that the fire had been the result of "catastrophic engine failure".

Passenger Reggie Bugmuncher, of Philadelphia said she was charging her phone and waiting at a gate for her flight when she heard people calling out in alarm.

She looked out the window and could see "bursts of flames coming out of the middle of the plane".

Others at the scene posted images and video on social media, expressing shock at the extent of the fire.

A picture posted on Instagram shows the extent of the blaze. Credit: reggiefaer/Instagram

A recording of the moment a mayday call was made after the fire broke out has been made public.

A member of the crew is heard requesting help from fire service before saying they were evacuating passengers onto the runway.

The fire, which started in the left engine as the plane began its flight, was put out shortly after the evacuation.

British Airways said investigators will soon be seeking to discover its cause.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it would be sending a team to Las Vegas to assist with the investigation.

The airline has also apologised to passengers caught up in the incident.

In a letter to customers, the airline asked for their patience while the situation was dealt with.

"I am very sorry that you were involved in the incident at Las Vegas Airport today," the letter said.

"We do not underestimate how distressing the experience has been for you and we have a dedicated team of staff here to help you."