December 20, 2016 10:05 pm
Updated: December 21, 2016 11:10 pm

EL AL Flight LY030 to Tel Aviv diverted back to Toronto after issuing mayday call

WATCH ABOVE: EL AL Flight LY030 to Tel Aviv was diverted back to Toronto's Pearson International Airport after issuing a mayday call Tuesday evening.

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An EL AL flight en route to Tel Aviv from Toronto was forced to return to the city after issuing a mayday call.

Evan Daurio, an employee of Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News, was on board the flight and said the plane was up in the air before it encountered trouble.

“We felt some sort of explosion or combustion on the right side of the plane. The lights went off and everything kind of started to flicker a bit,” he said Tuesday evening.

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“We saw the crew running around and after a bit of time we were told that there was something wrong with the plane, but we weren’t exactly sure what, and that we were turning around and going back to Toronto.”

Daniel Moir, who was on the plane, said that he and his fellow passengers were worried but they tried to keep themselves distracted.

“One pilot came rushing down the (aisle) looking very worried which made us more worried too. All they said is there was a problem with the right engine and we were returning to Toronto,” he told Global News in an email.

Daurio described the atmosphere as “pretty tense” as the plane made its way back to Pearson airport.

He said after the plane landed, it waited as a fire truck pulled up along the right side.

Daurio said the plane then taxied to the gate where passengers were kept on board while crews worked to find accommodations for them.

File picture of the Boeing 767 from EL AL’s website.

Toronto Pearson International Airport spokeswoman Natalie Moncur said the airport’s operations command centre was notified of the mayday call from tower personnel just after 7:10 p.m. ET. The airport reported the plane took off at 5:53 p.m.

“We had dispatched fire and emergency crews. They were on scene to greet the plane when it landed and conduct an inspection of the plane to make sure it was safe,” she said.

Moncur initially said passengers deplaned, but multiple people on board contacted Global News and said they were still waiting to go into the terminal. Moncur followed up to say EL AL staff were making arrangements for passengers.

Daurio said passengers were let off the plane before 11 p.m.

Airport officials couldn’t confirm the details of the mayday call and referred questions to EL AL.

Global News attempted to speak with EL AL, but a representative wasn’t available for comment Tuesday evening.

WATCH: Aviation expert says engine fires rare but can be ‘catastrophic’ if not contained (Dec. 21)

Rebecca Joseph contributed to this report

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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