Five dead after JAL airliner crashes into quake aid plane at Tokyo airport

January 3, 2024 8:50 am

[Source: Reuters]

All 379 people aboard a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane escaped the burning airliner after a collision with a Coast Guard aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda airport that killed five of six crew on the smaller craft.

Live footage on public broadcaster NHK showed the JAL (9201.T) Airbus (AIR.PA) A350 airliner burst into flames as it skidded down the tarmac shortly before 6 p.m. (0900 GMT).

Video and images shared on social media showed passengers shouting inside the plane’s smoke-filled cabin and running across the tarmac after escaping via an evacuation slide.

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At one point a child’s voice can be heard shouting: “Let us get out quickly! Let us get out quickly!”

All 367 passengers and 12 crew were evacuated from the blazing airliner, but the fire was not extinguished until shortly after midnight, after burning for more than six hours, broadcaster TBS reported citing the fire department.

At least 17 people on the passenger plane were injured, according to Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, of whom four were taken to hospital. None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito confirmed that five of the Coast Guard aircraft’s crew had died, while the 39-year-old captain of the plane escaped but was injured.

A ministry official told a press briefing the JAL plane was attempting to land normally when it collided with the Coast Guard’s Bombardier-built Dash-8 maritime patrol plane on the runway.

There had been no reports of engine or other problems on the airliner before the landing, the official said.

The Coast Guard said its plane was headed to Niigata on Japan’s west coast to deliver aid to those caught up in a powerful earthquake that struck on New Year’s Day, killing at least 55 people.

A JAL official told a press briefing it was the airline’s understanding that the flight had received permission to land, although he added that exchanges with flight control were still under investigation.