A Trans-Canada airlines DC-8F jet crashed and burned in a soggy field during a driving rainstorm Friday night (29 November) just four minutes after taking off from Montreal International Airport on a shuttle flight to Toronto.
A Trans-Canada airlines DC-8F jet crashed and burned in a soggy field during a driving rainstorm Friday night (29 November) just four minutes after taking off from Montreal International Airport on a shuttle flight to Toronto. A total of 118 persons was killed, making it the worst air disaster in Canadian history and the second worst single plane accident in commercial aviation history. There were no survivors among the 111 passengers and seven crew members aboard.
Searchers at the scene were hampered by deep mud around the wreck-age. The site was a flat field away from houses in the town of Ste. Therese de Blainville, a few hundred feet from the main highway leading from Montreal north to the Laurentian Mountains resort area.
Despite the heavy rain, the plane burned for about two hours. Although the plane was headed for Toronto, it was believed many of the passengers planned to continue on to Vancouver to attend the Grey Cup Canadian Championship football game on Saturday (30 November).
Soldiers and police stood watch Saturday (30 November) to hold back the curious and morbid souvenir hunters,. None was allowed closer than 500 feet.
Salvage and recovery work began at dawn on Saturday. One of the first tasks was to get a solid roadway to the scene and during the night bulldozers, tractors and trucks were brought in to build one.
Workmen dug a ditch around the perimeter of the crash crater to allow surface water to drain off. A Roman Catholic priest stood in the rain, prayer book in hand, administering last rites.
Airline officials expressed doubt about determining the cause of the crash by the usual piece-by-piece reconstruction of the plane. A Trans-Canada spokesman said, however, there was no question of sabotage.