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Justice Ginsburg Slides To Safety Off Airplane

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 78 and has battled cancer, was forced to slide down an emergency chute to evacuate a flight at Dulles International Airport on Wednesday that was grounded because of engine problems, a court spokeswoman said.

Ginsburg was on her way from Washington to San Francisco and was not injured, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe Estrada.

The captain ordered the evacuation of United Airlines Flight 586 after smoke appeared out of one of the plane’s engines, said United spokesman Mike Trevino. He said it wasn’t clear what caused the smoke, and that the emergency chutes were used to speed the evacuation. In all, 179 passengers and six crew members evacuated.

The plane returned to the terminal after the passengers were off.

Airport spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs says three people suffered minor injuries during the evacuation, two of whom refused treatment, and one was taken to a hospital.

One passenger, Jodi Gersh, director of social media for the Gannett media company, described feeling anxious on her Twitter feed as the plane was forced to evacuate.

“My plane just had an emergency evacuation — down the slides. I am shaking. I don’t know why. People were screaming.”

Later, she posted, “Attendants opened rear door to see where smoke was coming from. They then very loudly started yelling `everyone get out.’ Very scary.”

Another passenger, Susannah Fox, said in an email to The Associated Press that the evacuation itself was “calm and orderly” and that passengers retrieved carry-on belongings row-by-row. They were directed to an airport lounge in anticipation of a flight later in the afternoon.

Ginsburg, the high court’s oldest justice, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2009.

She underwent surgery and chemotherapy for the cancer and was hospitalized on two other occasions that year but is maintaining an active travel schedule that is taking her across the country at least twice this summer.

Estrada said Ginsburg would not be commenting on the evacuation.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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