A Japan Airlines Airbus-350 caught fire at Tokyo-Haneda International Airport on Tuesday after colliding with a Japanese Coast Guard plane carrying supplies to people displaced by the earthquake that struck the country on New Year’s Day.
All 379 people on board the commercial plane (367 passengers and 12 crew) were evacuated in time via an inflatable ramp at the front and were safe, although 17 were injured to varying degrees. In the other plane, five of the six occupants died after the crash. Only the captain, who is seriously injured, managed to survive the tragedy.
The Japan Airlines plane was coming from Hokkaido in northern Japan and had landed shortly before the crash, according to NHK.
“There was a thud and I thought it was a hard landing, but I didn’t know there had been an accident,” one passenger told NHK, adding that “there was no clear announcement to run away”. Others said they were informed of the closing of the rear centre doors, which is why they went out the front.
The accident occurred when the Airbus-350 crashed into a Japanese coast guard aircraft. Japanese television pictures showed the plane engulfed in flames.
— Hsnain🍄 (@Hsnain901) January 2, 2024
While the cause of the crash is under investigation, Yoshio Seguchi, deputy director of the Japan Coast Guard, told a press conference that they had received a report from the captain of the aircraft, who said that “the plane exploded on the runway and that he managed to escape”.
The Coast Guard plane was on its way to its base at Niigata airport to deliver humanitarian aid to people affected by the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that struck the west of the country on Monday, leaving at least 48 people dead, the force said.
The commercial aircraft burned to the ground as firefighting crews battled to extinguish the blaze, which was engulfed in thick black smoke.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has asked his ministers to make “every effort to investigate the collision” and congratulated the crew members for a quick and efficient evacuation.
The accident has forced Haneda airport to close its four runways for domestic flights. Both Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA) cancelled all flights to and from Haneda. The passenger plane that caught fire is an Airbus A350, JAL said, while the Coast Guard said it is a Bombardier DHC8-300.
The crash has come just as Japan continues to search through the rubble for possible victims of the 7.4 earthquake that struck the country this New Year and triggered tsunami warnings, which were later withdrawn.
-Thailand News (TN)