Plane engulfed in flames at Japan airport after collision kills 5


Plane engulfed in flames at Japan airport after collision kills 5

A passenger plane burst into flames as it landed at a Tokyo airport Tuesday, after a collision with a coast guard aircraft that killed five people, officials said.

All 379 passengers and crew were able to make it out of the Japan Airlines plane, Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito said at a news conference. The coast guard pilot escaped but five crew members were killed, he added.

The coast guard aircraft was going to fly earthquake relief to Niigata prefecture on the country’s west coast after a series of strong tremors killed at least 48 people and left widespread damage, Saito said at a news conference. There was no immediate information about the cause of the incident, he said.

Dramatic footage from the Japanese public broadcaster NHK showed plumes of orange fire and black smoke engulfing the passenger jet as it landed at Haneda Airport in the country’s capital.

Video showed the plane’s side and areas around the wing on fire at first as it taxied on the runway, before the fire spread to the cabin and rescue crews rushed to the tarmac.

The passenger plane had entered the airport’s Runway C from the south on landing and then crashed into the coast guard plane on the runway, said Shigenori Hiraoka, the director general of the ministry’s civil aviation bureau.

The Transport Safety Board will investigate the incident immediately, he said in a joint news conference with coast guard officials.

A Japan Airlines plane burns on the runway of Haneda airport on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024 in Tokyo.
The plane was an Airbus A350, Japanese media reported.Kyodo News via AP

NHK reported the plane was JAL Flight 516, which had taken off from New Chitose Airport in the northern Japanese region of Hokkaido at 4:15 p.m. local time (2:15 a.m. ET), according to FlightAware.

All runaways at the airport were closed, NHK said citing the Japan Airport Terminal, which manages the airport’s domestic terminal.

The local fire department deployed at least 70 firetrucks and other vehicles to extinguish the fire, it added.

Yoshio Seguchi, an official from the coast guard, expressed his condolences to everyone impacted by the incident.

“The loss of the life of our irreplaceable employee is a matter of the utmost regret,” he said in a presser. “May the souls of those who lost their lives rest in peace, and extend I my deepest condolences to the bereaved family.”

Haneda Airport, also known as Tokyo International Airport, was the busiest airport in the Asia Pacific region in 2023, according to global flight data provider OAG.

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