Japan’s Haneda Airport: Plane Catches Fire, At Least 5 killed

At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, a Japan Airlines (JAL) plane burst into flames after a collision with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft on the runway. This accident happened during the landing of JAL Flight 516, which had departed from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport and was scheduled to land at Haneda.

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Haneda Airport: Plane Catches Fire, At Least 5 killed

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The collision resulted in an inferno engulfing the airliner, making evacuation of all 379 passengers and crew on board.

Japan Airlines Flight 516, an Airbus A350-900, departed from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport and was scheduled to land at Haneda at 17:40 local time.

However, the routine landing took a turn as the aircraft collided with a Japan Coast Guard (JCG) plane on the runway.

The JCG aircraft, identified as a De Havilland Canada DHC-8, was on a mission to deliver relief supplies to areas affected by a recent 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Ishikawa.

Evacuation procedures were implemented, ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew on the Japan Airlines flight.

Disturbing footage revealed the aircraft consumed by flames as passengers utilized emergency slides to escape the blazing inferno.

The airline confirmed that all 367 passengers, including eight children under the age of two, evacuated without life-threatening injuries. However, 17 people on board suffered injuries.

The coastguard aircraft, identified as a De Havilland Canada DHC-8, was on a mission to provide earthquake relief following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Ishikawa the day before.

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Five of the six coastguard crew members lost their lives in the collision, with the pilot sustaining injuries. The aircraft was en route from Haneda to Niigata airport to contribute to the rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake.

The cause of the collision remains unclear, investigations by both Japan Airlines and the coastguard. Conflicting reports suggest the collision occurred either after the JAL plane landed on the runway or during its taxiing.

Haneda Airport took action by closing all its runways. The closure led to the cancellation of numerous flights, disrupting travel plans during a peak period, as millions of Japanese were for the New Year’s holidays.

The aftermath of the incident necessitated the diversion of flights to alternative airports, including Narita Airport, Chubu Centrair Airport, and Kansai Airport.

Aviation analysts and experts have expressed astonishment at the nature of the collision, addressing the rarity of such events in Japanese aviation history.

Yoshitomo Aoki, an aviation analyst, remarked, “I have never heard of such a major collision at an airport in Japan.”

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More than 100 fire trucks were dispatched to the scene, battling the flames that threatened to consume the entire plane. Dramatic images and videos captured the efforts of firefighters as they attempted to control the blaze.

Passengers who experienced the incident shared their accounts on social media. One passenger, posting on X, expressed relief, stating, “I was on board. I’m safe. Thank goodness.”

Such firsthand narratives provide chaos and panic that happened within the cabin as passengers confronted the life-threatening situation.

Haneda Airport, known as Japan’s busiest airport, faced disruptions during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

The closure of all runways and the diversion of flights to alternative airports created logistical challenges for both airport authorities and travelers.

Japan has maintained a commendable record of air safety, with few serious commercial aviation accidents in recent decades.

The last major aviation disaster dates back to 1985 when a JAL jumbo jet crashed in central Gunma region, resulting in 520 fatalities.

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