Passengers evacuated off a plane at Stansted airport last night have recalled the terrifying moment they fled the aircraft after hearing an 'explosion'.
The pilot of the Laudamotion passenger jet had to abandon take-off after an engine failure as it was due to lift off en-route to Vienna shortly before 8pm.
The Airbus A320 jet screeched to a halt and 169 passengers and the six crew members were evacuated down emergency slides, forcing Air Traffic Controllers to halt all departures and arrivals.
Anja Kohlfurst said passengers panicked as staff screamed 'evacuate' and 'jump'.
She said: 'They were just screaming evacuate and jump and pushing people to the slides.
'We were just hearing a bang and we saw something that looked like a explosion.
'After sliding out, we were just standing on the field and everyone was panicking.'
Sam Long, another passenger who was on board, said there was a 'loud bang as plane began to accelerate and take off'.
Another tweeted: 'Mid take off at Stansted, our plane had a huge bang, skidded to a stop and all had to evacuate down the slides, with my friend opening the emergency door. A scary experience for sure.'
He added: 'Cabin crew screaming evacuate and all had to slide down the slides.'
The emergency incident delayed flights at the busy airport for three hours causing significant disruption to thousands of other passengers.
Dozens of jets were diverted to alternative airports while others were delayed for hours until the runway at Stansted was cleared.
Passengers claimed they heard a bang as the aircraft gathered speed on the runway before the jet stopped.
Eight passengers suffered minor injuries after they were evacuated down the slides.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch said they were sending a team of experts to Stansted to discover what caused the pilot to abort the take off.
Thomas Steer was on a Vienna-bound Lauda Air flight which suffered a 'scary' aborted take-off shortly after 8pm on Friday.
The estate agent, 24, from Essex, said it had been accelerating for around 15 seconds before there was a 'big bang on the side of the aircraft which skidded to a stop'.
He said: 'It was scary. And then staff shouting 'evacuate evacuate'.
'My friend opened the emergency exit and we slid down the slides, a few old people fell over and the fire brigade treated them.
'No-one was seriously injured just minor things.'
The aircraft was removed from the runway shortly before 10pm and a full inspection of the tarmac has been launched ahead of the resumption of flight operations.
An airport spokesman said: 'Flights at London Stansted Airport are currently suspended due to an aircraft on the runway following an aborted take off due to a suspected engine problem.
'Emergency services attended and all passengers were evacuated from the aircraft as a precaution and have now been taken back to the terminal.'
There were no reports of any injuries. Images posted to social media by delayed passengers showed flashing blue lights on the runway.
One man, who said he was on the plane, posted on Twitter: 'Mid take off at Stansted, our plane had a huge bang, skidded to a stop and all had to evacuate down the slides, with my friend opening the emergency door. A scary experience for sure.'
Footage showed the emergency services assisting the jet.
Significant delays are expected this evening as dozens of jets have been forced to divert to other airports such as Southend, Birmingham and Luton.
Others returned to their departure airports.
Stansted later tweeted: 'The aircraft has now been removed from the runway and a full inspection is underway. All flights will resume as soon as it is safe to do so. The safety of our passengers is always our top priority and we're working closely with our airlines to ensure affected passengers are looked after.'
A spokesperson for Laudamotion told MailOnline: 'The crew of this Laudamotion flight from London Stansted to Vienna (1 Mar) OE 327 decided to abort the take off due to engine issues and to disembark the passengers on the runway as a precautionary measure.
'Passengers were transferred to the terminal by bus and will be reaccommodated onto a replacement flight.'
The Austrian-based airline was owned by former Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda
Nearly three hours after the incident, Stansted tweeted: 'Our runway has now re-opened and is fully operational. We are extremely sorry for the disruption caused by the incident, but our first priority is always the safety of passengers and staff.'