At least 17 children were killed after Delta Airlines jet made an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport dumped fuel on the playground of an elementary school in the flight path on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said, “All of the injuries at Park Avenue Elementary School in suburban Cudahy were said to be minor and none of the victims needed hospitalization”.

According to Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, “Delta Air Lines Flight 89 declared an emergency after departing from LAX, returned to the airport and landed without incident”.

The fire department said it had confirmed that jet fuel was the substance dropped on the school’s playground while students were at recess and that 70 firefighters were on the scene treating the injured.

The school is beneath the flight path for aircraft on approach to LAX. Images posted to social media show the plane spraying fuel from both of its wings from a low altitude. Aircraft returning to airports after takeoff often needs to dump fuel in order to reduce their weight to ensure a safe landing.

Usually, the procedure takes place off the coast, far from populated areas. This time, however, the neighbourhood was pungent with the smell of fuel, according to reports.

“Shortly after takeoff, Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after an emergency fuel release to reduce landing weight,” Delta said in a statement.

(With inputs from agency)