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Stinky Leak Forces Virgin Australia Flight to Return to Los Angeles

An airliner turned back to Los Angeles after a leak from the plane's bathroom caused what passengers described as an unbearable smell. The Virgin Australia Boeing 777 was three hours into its flight to Sydney when two of its sinks overflowed, the airline said in a statement. Several passengers tweeted after their flight landed just after 4 a.m. local time Monday (7 a.m. ET) that "human waste" and "vomit" had flowed into the cabin. However, Virgin's statement said that "reports of human waste in the aisle are incorrect."

The confusion occurred because water from the aircraft's sink system often contains a "funny smell and a funny color," according to an airline source. "People must have assumed it was human excrement. There was no overflow in the system that deals with the toilet." Virgin Australia said its engineers tested the water on landing and confirmed it contained no human waste. The airline added the plane's safety was never in danger.

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