An Air Canada flight from Toronto to Halifax left the runway as it crash landed at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport early Sunday morning, sending at least 23 people to hospital with injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
Flight AC624 “took a very hard landing” and skidded off the runway at approximately 12:35 a.m. AT,” said Peter Spurway, a spokesman for the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
“Right now, we have some minor injuries. Nothing that is deemed to be life-threatening,” he said.
In a tweet, Air Canada says 18 of 23 passengers have been released from hospital.
Airport officials put the number of people sent to hospital higher, at 25.
There were 132 passengers and five crew members on board. Officials originally said only 16 people were injured in the incident.
Spurway said there’s no indication what caused the landing and he did not know the condition of the plane.
A secondary runway is in operation at the airport, so flights have resumed. Changes in flight schedules are expected and the airport is asking people to check with their airline for flight information.
Spurway said some flight changes may not be because of the AC624 incident, but because of weather issues.
Electricity was out at the airport at the time of the incident, and remained off for at least an hour after. Nova Scotia Power, the local utility, tweeted at 2:12 a.m. AT that power had been restored.
“We’re not sure if the two incidents are related,” said Spurway. Federal investigators have been called, he said.
Plane circled for 30 minutes
Passenger Randy Hall said the plane was circling the airport for at least 30 minutes waiting for a good time to land. As the plane was coming down, there was “a big flash,” he said.
It has been suggested but not confirmed that the plane might have struck a power line or pole.
Passenger Denis Lavoie said he saw sparks coming from the plane and that it bounced twice upon landing.
When the plane landed, the passengers left via the emergency exits.
Left in the snow
“There was a couple people, all bloodied. Everybody was able to get out, but what was worse was that they left us for an hour outside in the blowing snow. I mean, we’re all freezing and we’re looking and going, ‘Why isn’t anybody coming to get us?’” said passenger Lianne Clark.
Once off the plane, the passengers ran away from the plane “because the fuel was coming out and we were scared,” she said.
Passengers were very cold, especially given that some were in shorts because they were coming from southern destinations and some had taken off their shoes while on the plane.
Scott Murray, one of dozens of family members waiting for loved ones on the flight from Toronto, told CBC News his father was on the plane and called to say “that the plane crashed and he’s all right.”
‘A rough ride’
It was snowing heavily at the airport at the time of the incident and Murray said his drive in was just as “nasty.”
“It was a rough ride here. It was pretty nasty. Highways aren’t that great,” he said.
Greg Wright, who was waiting for his 13-year-old son to come off the plane, said he thought his son was joking when he called from the plane.
“He said, ‘We crashed, we crashed.’ I said, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I’m on the runway,'” Wright said. “I was panicked.”
His son and other passengers were directed to a fire truck, then a bus, and were taken to an airport hangar where they were triaged and checked for injuries, said Wright. His son was not seriously hurt.
Lavoie said the buses picked the passengers up at 1:21 a.m. and showed photos to a CBC reporter to confirm this.
CBC reporters Anjuli Patil and Brett Ruskin are on the scene, tweeting from the airport.
- On mobile? Watch video of passengers describing the crash landing
- On mobile? Follow our live blog of the crash here