In a dramatic incident at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, all 379 individuals aboard a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane survived a harrowing collision with a Coast Guard aircraft that tragically claimed the lives of five crew members from the smaller plane.
Live visuals aired by public broadcaster NHK captured the JAL Airbus A350 bursting into flames while skidding down the tarmac around 6 p.m. local time.
Witnessed through social media footage, passengers were seen shouting within the smoke-filled cabin before fleeing across the tarmac via evacuation slides. A child’s voice urgently pleaded, “Let us get out quickly! Let us get out quickly!”
Satoshi Yamake, a telecommunications worker onboard, recounted, “I felt the airplane tilted to the side at the runway and felt a big bump. The flight attendants told us to stay calm and instructed us to get off the plane.”
Amid the chaos, all 367 passengers and 12 crew members successfully evacuated, but the blaze raged on for over six hours before being extinguished post-midnight, reported TBS citing the fire department.
“I heard an explosion about 10 minutes after everyone and I got off the plane,” said survivor Tsubasa Sawada, acknowledging the miraculous survival amidst the chaos.
Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito confirmed the deaths of five Coast Guard crew members, while the plane’s captain, aged 39, survived but sustained injuries. Investigations revealed the collision occurred during the JAL plane’s attempted landing.
While the cause remains under scrutiny, the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) initiated an investigation, involving representatives from France (where the plane was built) and the UK (the engines’ manufacturer). Airbus and technical advisers are also joining the inquiry.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed condolences for the Coast Guard crew’s loss and assured efforts to ensure the accident’s minimal impact on delivering relief supplies for the recent earthquake victims.