Gatwick was returning to normal operations today after an emergency landing by a Virgin Atlantic aircraft which left 15 people injured.

All flights to and from the airport were suspended after the Airbus A330 on a service to Orlando was forced to return amid reports from passengers that they had seen smoke in the cabin.

The injured were among 13 crew and 299 passengers on the aircraft which left Gatwick just before 11am local time but returned to make an emergency landing at 1230.

Media reports said a fire kin the hold had been detected, forcing the aircraft back to the single runway airport.

Emergency escape chutes were deployed after the aircraft landed. Passengers suffered injuries, including suspected fractures and cuts, as they escaped the aircraft.

The incident led to the temporary suspension of flights at Gatwick, leading to some knock-on delays. Some flights were cancelled or diverted and passengers were advised to check with their airlines for specific information.

The airline said: “Due to a technical problem on board the aircraft, the captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft.”

Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgeway told Sky News he could not confirm reports by some passengers on Twitter that they had seen smoke in the cabin.

“I have just been with the passengers and none of them mentioned that to me,” he said.

Ambulance service spokesman David Davis, said a range of injuries had been treated.

“People with suspected broken ankles and legs and arms and people suffering with pain which could be indicative of injuries in their back and spine,” he said. “There are other people with abdominal injuries, or suspected abdominal injuries.”