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Scared passengers watched as a fire broke out after a Sunwing plane collided with a WestJet aircraft at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

A WestJet Flight arriving from Cancun on Friday was waiting to advance to a gate when it was struck by a Sunwing Airlines aircraft being towed by a “ground handling service provider," Sunwing Vacations tweeted.

The arriving plane was carrying 168 passengers and six crew members when the other aircraft backed into it, CBC News reported. There were no passengers aboard the Sunwing plane at the time of the collision.

'It was chaos'

When the planes struck, amusement turned to panic on board WestJet's Boeing 737-800, according to passenger Gustavo Lobo.

"Out of nowhere there was an audible crunch and the plane rocked slightly," Lobo told CBC News. "We looked out the window and saw that the plane had backed up into us. Everyone was a little shocked and kind of chuckling at the situation."

They didn't laugh for long, he said.

"Panic set in when [we saw] what seemed to be fuel spewing from the crash. After a couple of seconds the entire thing ignited and it was chaos inside the plane. People screaming and panicking all while the flight attendants shouted to try and control the situation."

Lobo took a video of the fire, and said eventually everybody slid down the emergency slides to safety, though the process was slowed by passengers who insisted on taking their carry-on luggage with them.

Fire and smoke

Ali Alagheband, also on the flight with his wife and 12-year-old son, said a "big ball of fire" lit up the right-side windows just seconds after the plane rattled with the force of the collision.

"Everybody was saying the F-word and screaming," Alagheband said, adding that he mostly stayed calm until black smoke seeped into cabin.

"The flight attendants kept saying 'remain seated, remain seated,'" he recalled. Fearing they'd soon be gasping for air and stuck on the plane, he told his son to stay calm and wear an oxygen mask if they fell from the cabin's ceiling.

"There was fire and there was fuel in that wing," he said. A mechanical engineer by trade, he could tell "it wasn't a good situation."

Nobody knew an evacuation was underway until a passenger stood on his seat and yelled that a door had opened, he said.

But as the crowd moved toward the door, some passengers blocked his family's escape.

"I was yelling at people reaching overhead to get their bags. It was ridiculous," he said. "I was literally yelling, 'Get the F off the plane."

'Nobody knew what was going on'

John-Ross Parks, 32, was aboard another plane, to Fort Lauderdale, beside the Sunwing aircraft. They were waiting to depart when passengers around him began to complain of a funny smell. Parks figured it was just exhaust.

But half an hour after their scheduled take-off time, Parks said, people noticed something amiss, CBC News reported.

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"The air was full of fumes," he told CBC Toronto. As the plane grew more restless, somebody looked out the window, he said, and saw the burning Sunwing flight next to them.

Parks, who was en route to catch a Caribbean cruise with his mother and grandmother, said his flight was cancelled in the pandemonium.

"I've never seen so many emergency trucks," he said. "Nobody knew what was going on."


Update: As of 21:00, all Westjet passengers have been safely returned to the terminal and are being cleared through Canadian customs.

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