Tragedy struck at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport as a Japan Airlines plane caught fire after what appears to have been a collision with a coast guard aircraft, resulting in the loss of five lives. The dramatic incident unfolded on Tuesday, with images on NHK showing the aircraft moving on the runway before erupting into intense flames.
All 367 passengers and 12 crew members aboard the Airbus were safely evacuated, including eight children. Unfortunately, the five casualties were from the Coast Guard aircraft, with one crew member reported safe while the fate of the other five remains unknown.
Details surrounding the cause of the collision are still unclear, though reports suggest the Airbus collided with the Coast Guard plane. The latter was slated to aid in rescue efforts following a recent earthquake in central Japan.
The JAL passenger plane had just landed from Sapporo airport in Hokkaido when the incident occurred. Officials are investigating the sequence of events, with initial reports indicating a collision either on the runway or taxiway post-landing.
Footage from a passenger inside the aircraft captured flames emanating from below before the cabin filled with smoke. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is actively investigating the situation.
Emergency response teams were swift, with over 70 fire engines deployed to contain the blaze. The airport temporarily closed, with burning debris on the runway.
This devastating event marks a rare aviation accident for Japan, a country that hasn’t faced a major commercial aviation disaster in decades. The last significant incident dates back to 1985 when a JAL jumbo jet crash claimed 520 lives in the central Gunma region.