When the news and first footage of the crash of Air France Flight 358 was aired from Toronto Tuesday afternoon, rescue and medical teams braced for what would likely be a horrific catastrophe. The crash of the jumbo jet carrying 297 passengers and 12 crew would likely produce a number of casualties.

But somehow passengers and crew on what is being called a "miracle flight" managed to jump free of the wreckage, moments before it burst into flames, and literally walked away. The Associated Press reports some of the passengers merely walked up a ravine and hitched rides from passing motorists along one of Canada's busiest highways.

As many as 43 passengers and crew members suffered injuries but none appear to be life threatening, according to the Associated Press. The "miracle" flight may be attributed also to the skill of the crew. The Associated Press reports the plane was evacuated in less than two minutes and the co-pilot was the last to leave the plane.

The plane skidded off a runway in a pounding storm and ended up about 200 yards past the runway. It had earlier aborted a landing after alarms sounded in the cockpit.

The crew helped shepherd passengers down the emergency chute. Some wouldn't wait and jumped from the wreckage before it burst in flames. FAA officials in Oklahoma City, quoted on network television shows Wednesday, stressed the importance of following the instructions of the flight crew, reading the information in the seat-pocket and knowing where exits are located.

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