TORONTO: Two jetliners collided at a Toronto airport, setting a wing on fire and sending dozens of terrified passengers fleeing into the cold.
A Boeing 737 landed at Pearson International Airport shortly after sundown Friday, ferrying 168 WestJet passengers from Cancun, Mexico.
Outside, on an evening of record-setting cold in Toronto, workers were towing an empty Sunwing plane across the airfield.
Neither of the two airlines or Swissport, whose worker was towing the empty plane, have explained how it managed to hit the WestJet flight.
Many passengers have described what it felt like.
The plane was still waiting to park at 6:20pm, according to the airport.
Passenger Stephen Belford wrote that the pilot had just announced there was staffing shortage over the intercom – and then came the jolt.
The empty plane – also a 737 – backed straight into the WestJet flight, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
“There was an audible crunch, and the plane rocked slightly,” Gustavo Lobo told the outlet.
“Everyone was a little shocked and kind of chuckling at the situation.”
People watched as something started to spew out of one of the plane wings. “And then it set in that it’s not steam, it’s gas,” a passenger told CTV News.
“And then the whole thing ignites and everyone starts panicking.”
“Big fire!” someone yells in a video from the WestJet flight.
People screamed, some thinking their own plane was on fire.
“Remain seated, remain seated, remain seated,” someone urged, but not everyone listened. People stood in the aisle. A small girl stood up in her seat and wheeled around as flames shot off Sunwing’s wing outside her window.
Seated with his wife and 12-year-old son, Ali Alagheband told CBC News, he managed to stay calm until black smoke began to fill the cabin.
“Oh, f- me,” someone yelled in a video.
The conversation over air traffic control radio was calmer, but no less dire.
“We’re on fire,” a pilot said in monotone, as reported by Global News.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday. We’re evacuating.”… (CONTINUED)
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