The day a jet went off a Toronto runway and everyone lived

Everyone on board an Air France flight lived to tell the tale of a terrifying landing at Pearson airport in August 2005.

Air France Flight 358 ended up skidding off the runway on Aug. 2, 2005

A fire truck hoses down the wreckage of Air France Flight 358 at Pearson airport, the day after the crash, in August of 2005. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Looking at the airplane wreckage, it was hard to believe that no one had died among the 309 passengers and crew.

"I would say this is a miracle," said Jean Lapierre, the federal transport minister, summing up the situation hours after Air France Flight 358 went off the runway at Toronto's Pearson airport on Aug. 2, 2005.

The Airbus A340-313 had come in for a landing just after 4 p.m. that day, during a powerful thunderstorm. It then skidded off the runway, came to rest in a ravine and caught fire.

Amazingly, everyone on board the plane at the time of the landing escaped with their lives — though 12 people suffered serious injuries in the crash and its aftermath.

'The plane was continuing to go'

Olivier Dubois describes what it was like to be on a plane that went off the runway at Pearson airport in August 2005. 0:17

Olivier Dubois was sitting near the back of the plane when the emergency unfolded. For him, the scariest part was when the plane did not come to a rest after touching down on the tarmac.

"The most difficult [part] was when the plane was rolling... we thought we would die," the Toronto resident told CBC News hours after the ordeal.

"We would look out the window, there were a lot of flames, the plane was continuing to go and we thought we would just die."

'All hell broke loose'

Roel Bramer describes surviving a landing in which the plane went off the runway at Pearson airport in August 2005. 1:31

Sitting beside him was nightlife impresario Roel Bramer, another Toronto resident. He, too, described the terror of the plane rolling off the runway.

​"The landing seemed to be a bit fast, but we landed ... and then all hell broke loose, because obviously the plane overshot the runway," said Bramer, who was drinking champagne after surviving the crash.

"And that's when I for the first time thought it's game over, because we really got thrown around."

Stories of survival

Investigators are seen examining the wreckage of Air France Flight 358, the day after the crash. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press/Associated Press)

Dubois said that as soon as the plane came to a rest, the flight crew went to work to get all the passengers out.

He said the emergency slides were inflated and then those on board were on their way.

"We were jumping and then running, running in the field, trying to escape the flames and the smoke, et cetera," he said.

By the evening, the stories of other passengers began to spread.

As the CBC's Mellissa Fung reported on The National that night, some people ended up wandering onto the nearby Highway 401 — one of the busiest highways in the country — and catching rides to the hospital.

Mellissa Fung describes how passengers escaped from the plane that crashed at Pearson in August 2005. 0:37

There were lawsuits that followed the crash, as well as an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.  But as no one will ever forget, no one died that day.