Tragedy struck when a plane bound for Corfu caught fire on the runway at Manchester airport on this day in 1985, killing 53 of the 131 passengers and two members of the flight crew.

The British Airtours Boeing 737 was about to take off when its port-side engine exploded at 140mph, causing debris to puncture the wing and a fuel tank. Captain Peter Terrington was able to abort the take-off but, unaware that the plane was ablaze, turned off the runway.

As the plane turned right, its burning wing was now upwind of the fuselage, and the flames quickly spread to the cabin.  Within moments, those on board would become enveloped in thick black toxic smoke.

Soon after the plane came to a halt, the purser attempted to open the right-hand front exit door but found it jammed. He quickly moved to the left-hand door which he opened, before returning to the right-hand side and freeing the door, some 85 seconds after the plane had stopped.

 Investigators examine the British Airtours jet.

Those extra seconds proved fatal for many. The official report into the accident stated that the scale of the tragedy was "... aggravated by evacuation delays caused by a forward right door malfunction and restricted access to the exits".

[Read more: July 25, 2000 - Dream of supersonic travel ends as 113 die in Air France Concorde crash]

Inhalation of the smoke caused by the fire was found to have caused 48 of the deaths. Survivors spoke of its toxic nature, with one saying: "It was so thick, it tasted of kerosene and plastic... you knew that if you got to inhale it a second time you would collapse".

Amid severe criticism of their safety regulations, the Civil Aviation Authority instigated a study into evacuation methods and on-board safety, which would lead to the redesign of aisles by exits, fire-retardant seat covers and low-level escape path lighting.