Randy Hall and his wife Lianne Clark were on their way home to Mount Uniake, N.S., from a vacation in Mexico.
Clark, a computer consultant, said at first they thought the plane had just made a hard landing.
"And when the ... air bags started to deploy and you saw things falling on the floor, we said, 'Oh no. We've got to get out,' " said Clark.
"We just opened the doors when we landed and everyone started to pile out."
Clark said some passengers reacted emotionally when the plane began skidding along the runway.
"There was a couple of people screaming, but it was more shock," she added.
Hall said he believes the jet hit a power line before it touched down. There were sparks but no fire, he said.
"We were just coming in to land and there was a big flash," said Hall. "The plane came down, bang! It jumped up in the air again."
Hall said the aircraft hit so hard, the landing gear and at least one of the engines was ripped from the plane.
"I was looking out and I saw the landing gear go and I saw an engine go," said Hall.
"Then I started to see the wing come apart. There was lots of sparks and no flames."
Hall said he saw some people with bloody faces, but most people the couple saw after the crash were suffering from cuts and bruises.
Dominic Stettler, 31, of Wolfville, N.S., said people on board the plane responded calmly when the plane came to a stop.
"I think we hit a power cable, there was a lot of sparks," said Stettler, the father of two boys and a girl.
"We hit the ground, we came up and then we slid on the runway for quite a long time. We just kicked the doors out and jumped onto the wing and then ran because we just wanted to get away from the airplane in case of explosions or anything."
Stettler was impressed with the reaction among his fellow passengers.
"I thought everyone was very level-headed. A lot of good-hearted Nova Scotians, he said.
"A woman offered me her jacket because I was shivering and pulled me into a tight warm hug and we just sat there for a while. It was kind of special actually."
Once he was off the plane, he ran to safety with the other passengers.
"I was talking to another woman who's got kids and we both said we felt like cowards because we just ran and didn't stop to help people. But we were just driven to get away from the plane for the sake of our families," he said.
"It was just completely surreal. I was running down the landing, the tarmac, and there was the smell of kerosene. I tripped over a big metal object, which must have been one of the components. It was just completely surreal. Parts of the plane were scattered across. I don't really want to say too much because I don't want to terrify people. But yeah, it was surreal."
— By Michael MacDonald and Gregory Strong in Halifax
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