Tokyo airport tragedy: Japan Airlines plane collides, catches fire
At Tokyo's Haneda Airport, all 379 passengers and crew members aboard a Japan Airlines flight safely escaped a fiery collision with a Coast Guard aircraft on Tuesday.
NHK, Japan's public broadcaster, reported that most of the Coast Guard plane's crew unfortunately died.
The collision involved a Coast Guard plane en route to Niigata Airport, carrying aid for victims of a recent earthquake that claimed 48 lives. It crashed into the Japan Airlines Airbus A350, which had departed from Shin-Chitose Airport in Hokkaido.
Live footage captured the intense scene as the JAL plane burst into flames and skidded down the runway around 6 p.m. (0900 GMT). Despite intense efforts, the aircraft was ultimately consumed by the fire.
Passengers experienced harrowing moments, as social media footage showed them in a smoke-filled cabin, shouting before fleeing via evacuation slides. A passenger described to Kyodo News Agency the moment of impact, seeing sparks and the cabin quickly filling with gas and smoke.
In response, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida directed agencies to assess the damage and keep the public informed. Subsequently, Haneda Airport closed all runways, a spokesperson confirmed.
Kaoru Ishii, a mother who was waiting outside the arrival gate for her 29-year-old daughter and boyfriend coming back on the flight said she initially though the flight was delayed until her daughter called to explain.
"She said the plane had caught fire and she exited via a slide," Ishii said. "I was really relieved that she was alright."