Passengers escape airliner inferno in Toronto

Passengers on an Air France flight to Toronto, including several British travellers, escaped injury after the jet over-ran the runway, careered into a gully and caught fire.

All 309 on board the jet - 297 passengers and 12 crew - managed to escape the blazing wreckage at Toronto's Pearson airport after a crash landing in poor weather at around 8.00pm (GMT) - 4.00pm local time.

The aircraft an Airbus A340-400, which has a good safety record, may have been hit by lightning and passengers reported that all the lights had gone out, plunging the cabin into darkness, just before the plane attempted to land.

Canadian officials confirmed that around 20 passengers had been treated for minor injuries when the plane overshot the runway by over 200 metres, crashed through the airport security fence and ended up nose down in a gully.

The aircraft broke into several pieces and eyewitnesses reported seeing several "fireballs" as flames engulfed the plane.

Airport emergency fire crews fought for over two hours to bring the blaze under control.

Reports form the scene indicate that there was heavy rain and lightning in the vicinity of the airport at the time of the crash.

A spokesperson for Greater Toronto Airport Authority confirmed that the fire heavily damaged the aircraft, Flight AF358 from Paris, but that all the passengers were evacuated before the blaze reached the fuselage.

The Federal Transport Investigation Board has launched an investigation into the incident, which will commence as soon as the emergency services have finished working at the scene.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

01 March 2005
Passengers evacuated in plane emergency
Over 300 passengers had to be evacuated from a Pakistani Airlines flight at Manchester Airport this morning, after reports that it had caught fire. The Boeing 777, flight 789, had landed just after 9am when police officers stationed at the airport were called to the scene, following reports that the plane had caught alight.
09 August 2007
Airline Starts Investigation Into Sinking Plane
Officials at First Choice airline are seeking an explanation after one of their aircraft sank into the tarmac at City of Derry airport. A flight carrying 180 passengers inbound from Salou had been instructed to wait on a remote runway after landing.
05 August 2008
Passengers 'Shook Up' After Runway Collision
Two aircraft have collided at Manchester airport as they were being taxied to the runway. There were no injuries as the planes, carrying a combined 287 passengers and crew, touched wings as they were being taken out to Manchester Airport's first runway at 2pm on Tuesday afternoon.
18 August 2006
Bomb threat note forces plane to divert
A British passenger plane operated by Excel Airways en route from Gatwick to Egypt diverted to a southern Italian airport after the pilot reported that a bomb was suspected to be on board.
09 August 2013
Oxfordshire Four-Runway Airport Plans Submitted
Plans for a new £18.2 billion four-runway airport in Oxfordshire have been submitted to the governments Airport Commission, which is investigating the possibility of airport expansion in the South East.