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The Canadian North Dash 8 aircraft circled Yellowknife airport for 15 minutes Tuesday evening before landing on its belly on a runway. ((CBC))

Two Nunavut-basedwomen aboard a Canadian North flight said they prayed and cried Tuesday evening as the airplane slid on its belly down the runway during an emergency landing in Yellowknife.

The passengers from the Kitikmeot region— one of whom had her 16-month-old baby on board— were travelling for medical treatment when the Dash 8 aircraft on a flight fromGjoa Haven toCambridge Bayfailed to deploy its front landing gear as it was approaching the Cambridge Bay airport.

"I was thinking that the plane's going to tear up and that, and burn," Annie Konana told CBC News on Wednesday. "I started praying."

"We were all crying and yelling because of the turbulence," recalled Kristen Eetoolook, who held her baby while sitting in a nearby seat. "It was really windy out there too, while we were trying to land."

Flight diverted to Yellowknife

Airline spokeswoman Kelly Kaylo said the landing gear problem was noticed as the plane approached Cambridge Bay, but the pilot decided to fly 850 kilometres west to Yellowknife because its airport is better equipped to handle emergency landings.

It circled the airport for about 15 minutes, in an attempt to reduce the amount of fuel it had on board, before landing on its belly on an airport runway around 7 p.m.

"The aircraft landed here in Yellowknife on the two main landing gear. The nose gear did not engage,"she said. "And so the aircraft came to a stop where the nose touched down onto the runway."

Yellowknife airport manager Steve Loutitt told CBC News that the Canadian North pilot notified the airport of the problem more than an hour before landing. Fire crews and ambulances were on the scene by the time the aircraft did land.

Landing 'picture-perfect,' but loud

"It was a very smooth landing, surprisingly, and it was pretty much picture-perfect," Loutitt said.

As the aircraft closed in on the Yellowknife airport runway, Konana said she was thinking Tuesday might be the last day of her life. But despite having no front landing gear, the pilot guided the plane to what Konana described as a soft, but loud, landing.

Kaylo said none of the four passengers or the three crew members on board were injured in the incident.

"One passenger was actually taken to the hospital after she was assessed initially," she said."She was released shortly thereafter and we visited with her later and she was fine."

The federal Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.