Tuesday at Haneda airport in Tokyo, a collision between a coast guard aircraft and a Japan Airlines A350 ignited on the runway of the latter. Fortunately, all 379 passengers aboard the aircraft managed to escape unscathed.
Breaking: Following reports of an accident at Tokyo Haneda airport involving a Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 on fire after and a suspected collision with a coast guard aircraft. pic.twitter.com/VjVyJNFufK
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) January 2, 2024
According to Reuters, five of the six staff members on the coast guard aircraft perished, and seventeen passengers of Japan Airlines were injured.
The coast guard informed Reuters that the aircraft was en route to the western coast of the island nation to aid in relief efforts following Monday’s significant earthquake in that region.
BREAKING: Japan Airlines aircraft collided with coast guard plane causing fire. Passengers spotted escaping from burning plane
— Insider Paper (@TheInsiderPaper) January 2, 2024
“A transport 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,” Reuters reported.
A specialist in aviation safety referred to the absence of civilian casualties as a “miracle.”
“The cabin crew must have done an excellent job. There don’t seem to be any carry-ons. It was a miracle that all the passengers got off,” Paul Hayes, director of air safety at UK-based aviation consultancy Ascend by Cirium, told Reuters.
“I felt a boom like we had hit something and jerked upward the moment we landed,” one passenger on the Japan Airlines flight told the Kyodo news agency, according to Reuters.
“I saw sparks outside the window and the cabin filled with gas and smoke,” the passenger added.
🚨All that remains of Japan Air Flight 516 after it burst into flames at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.
It is a miracle anyone survived.
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) January 2, 2024
Regarding the deceased coast guard members, Japan’s Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito told Reuters, “This is a great regret as the crew members performed their duties with a strong sense of mission and responsibility for the victims of the disaster area.”
Officials were working to ensure that aid continued to flow to the earthquake-devastated region, he added, despite the Haneda airport being closed for several hours after the collision.
Subsequent reports indicated that all three runways at the airport were operational, while investigators persisted in their inquiry into the collision’s cause.