Airplane Crashes at Pearson

[Update]The plane crash today at Pearson airport was shocking and surreal. It's been a long time since a large jet has burst into flames in the GTA and early signs pointed to a grim outcome. But miraculously, all 309 passengers and crew of the Air France AF358 walked away from the burning wreckage.

Reports now indicate the plane came in too high and landed too far down the runway, causing it to skid off the end and crash into a ravine where it broke apart and, later, burst into flames. Bad weather certainly played a factor.

Seeing news reports come in from across the web as the situation unfolded was pretty unreal, but ultimately uplifting. Here's some screenshots from earlier today:

Reports from the Star.


The Star an hour later, trying to put a figure on the number of passengers.


Homepage of CNN earlier this afternoon.


Toronto was the number one search term on blog search engine Technorati.


See below for archived content of this post as the news was breaking:

This is just hitting the wire. Stay tuned for updates here as news unfolds.

* Globe link

Update 1: The Star is reporting this is an Air France Jet arriving from Paris to Toronto.

Update 2: The National Post has more.

A passenger jet has skidded off the runway at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and crashed into a ditch. The flight is apparently Air France flight AF358, an Airbus A340, and the airliner is now nose-down in a ditch and billowing thick black smoke

Smoke billowed from a wooded area near Highway 401, Canada's busiest highway.

Peel police say the craft was an Air France passenger jet that was attempting to land when it ran into trouble.

Sgt. Glyn Griffiths said passengers saw flames from the window but couldn't say whether they had been removed from the plane.

Emergency crews were enroute to the scene.

Update 3: Wikipedia has info about previous crashes at Pearson.

Update 4: From the Globe on casualties: "A pilot has gone to hospital and they were picked up on the 401 and a number of other passengers were wandering around the area so we're trying to head them off. I haven't got any information on casualties at all."

Update 5: 680 news is reporting that 2 busloads of passengers have been moved away from the area. Also mentioned two large explosions. 401 closed.

Update 6: 680 news reporting that "most" of the 200 passengers were able to get out of the plane before it burst into flames. Live streaming of their coverage online.


Update 7: Air France states 252 passengers were on board.

Update 8: CNN reporting that plane touched runway before crashing. Globe has list of previous incidents involving the A340.

Update 9: Audio from 680 news and CNN. Listen to the MP3.

Update 10: NY Times has live video.

Update 11: All flights canceled in and out of Pearson.


Update 12: From the CBC: The incident happened as most operations at the airport were grounded because of severe thunderstorms in the area. At mid-afternoon Tuesday, a spokesperson with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said lightning was causing technical problems with the airport's lightning-detection system. All aircraft were grounded for safety reasons as a result, largely to protect crews working on the ground.

Update 13: From 680 News/CTV. Passenger says there were no evacuation instructions when plane crashed. Everyone was panicked. There was no warning from captain/crew that landing would be difficult. But power went out in plane just before landing. Thought it was because of the rain/lighting. Was very scared.

Update 14: 680 news reporting that all passengers escaped. Some injuries but no report of fatalities.


Update 15: CBC confirming all passengers survived the crash.

Update 16: Audio coverage from the GTAA news conference. Listen to the MP3

Update 17: 297 passengers. 12 crew. 14 injuries. no fatalities. Source: GTAA

Update 18: Audio interview with passenger. From CNN.

Update 19: Another passenger interview from CNN. Listen to the MP3.


Update 20: From CNN. Passenger Roel Bramar told CBC-TV that he was in the last seat of the full flight when it landed and failed to stop before the runway ended. "There was some real roller-coasting going on," as the plane drove into the ravine, he said. "This plane came off the runway. It slid off the runway and into this gully," said Toronto radio reporter Leah Walker, who witnessed the crash. "It's come off with probably a great amount of force into trees and the creek." She said a fireball engulfed the plane.

Another witness, Corey Marx, said, "Everything looked good, sounded good. It hit the runway nice, then all of a sudden we heard the engines backing up." Marx said he initially didn't think anything was wrong. But then, "The guy I was with piped up, 'You know, he's getting pretty close to the end.' Immediately afterward, right off he went." The plane fell into a valley at the end of the runway and cracked in half, Marx said.

Update 21: Another interview with a passenger by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Listen to the MP3.

Update 22: Globe has list of notable plane crashes in Canada.

Update 23: From the Globe/CBC Newsworld. "All I did was run like crazy," passenger Roel Bramar told CBC Newsworld. "I was the second one off the plane and everyone was running like crazy. It was full. Totally full. I saw lightning. Just as we landed, the lights turned off and that's unusual. The captain wanted to lower the plane as quickly as possible. We had come to a complete stop. It's not like you think anything else is about to happen. I got off the plane on a chute. I don't know what happened to everyone else because I was the second one off the plane. I'm standing here in a blanket and I just want to go home because I'm feeling pretty shaky," Mr. Bramar said.

Update 24: Audio coverage of the second GTAA press conference. Listen to the MP3.

Breaking news seems to be winding down on today's plane crash at Toronto's Pearson airport. No doubt can get a full recap on the evening news and tomorrow's papers.

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