From this wreckage on a Korean runway, all 160 passengers and crew escaped

SEOUL (AFP) - A Korean Airlines (KAL) Airbus A-300 careered off the runway and exploded in a fireball after trying to land on the island of Cheju yesterday, but all 160 aboard escaped without serious injury.

KAL and the 152 dazed but grateful passengers praised the heroism of the cabin crew, including five flight attendants who quelled panic and pushed passengers one by one from the burning plane just seconds before the whole fuselage exploded.

Witnesses said the crew marshalled all the passengers and had them chanting in unison, 'Keep order] One by one] Keep order] One by one]' as they pushed them down the escape chutes through the smoke and into the rain.

In the eight-minute drama, a steward, Kim Jae Jung, was the last to leave. He checked the inside of the plane to make sure all were safely out, then leapt through the flames, shouting 'No more passengers,' witnesses said.

The crash occurred shortly after 11am when the Canadian pilot, Barry Edward Woods, of Flight 2033 from Seoul to Cheju, made a second attempt to land on the seaside runway in blustering crosswinds of up to 64mph and driving rains spawned by Typhoon Doug.

In Paris, Airbus Industrie, maker of the A-300, said: 'The plane landed without problems. But the very difficult weather conditions made it slide and leave the runway.'

The Cheju medical clinic said it had treated seven passengers and one crew member for minor injuries. All had left for a KAL hotel on the island, a resort favoured by honeymooners off the southern tip of South Korea.

(Photograph omitted)