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Five killed and more than a dozen injured in fiery plane crash in Japanese capital

Footage from inside plane shows smoking pouring from beneath wings as it landed at Haneda airport

Tom Watling
Tuesday 02 January 2024 17:20 GMT
Japan Airlines jet bursts into flames on Tokyo's Haneda airport runway

Five people were killed and more than a dozen injured when a passenger jet collided with a Japanese coastguard aircraft and burst into flames as it landed at a Tokyo airport.

The coastguard plane was carrying aid for victims of the earthquake that rocked the country on New Year’s Day and has killed at least 48 people.

Footage from within the Japan Airlines Airbus-A350, which was carrying 379 people, including eight children, showed smoke pouring from beneath its wings as it landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport at around 5.45pm local time (8.45am GMT).

By the time the plane came to a standstill, it was engulfed by flames as rescuers rushed to evacuate all the passengers.

Smoke fills the cabin of the Japan Airlines Airbus-A350 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video (via REUTERS)

It appears the plane, which had flown from Shin Chitose on the island of Hokkaido, crashed into a Japanese coastguard aircraft that had taxied to the runway about an hour before the collision but had not taken off, according to Yoshio Seguchi, the deputy director of the Japan Coast Guard.

Five coastguard crew members were killed in the collision. The pilot survived but was in a serious condition.

Aviation experts said that a stationary plane hit by a moving aircraft is likely to sustain the majority of damage. However, broadcaster NHK, citing the Tokyo Fire Department, said at least 17 of the people evacuated from the passenger plane were injured.

Transport minister Tetsuo Saito said the Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB), police and other departments would investigate the crash.

A passenger on board the commercial flight described the moment their plane appeared to have collided with the other aircraft.

Footage appeared to show the moment the plane caught fire (AP)

“I felt a boom,” the unnamed passenger told the Kyodo news agency, “like we had hit something and jerked upward the moment we landed. I saw sparks outside the window and the cabin filled with gas and smoke.”

Teenager Anton Deibe, 17, who was travelling on the flight with his sister and parents, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: “The entire cabin was filled with smoke within a few minutes. We threw ourselves down on the floor. Then the emergency doors were opened and we threw ourselves at them.

“The smoke in the cabin stung like hell. It was hell. We have no idea where we are going so we just run out into the field. It was chaos.”

Miraculously, all 379 passengers, including 12 crew members, survived without life-threatening injuries, the local authorities announced.

But it soon emerged that five coastguard crew members had died in the crash.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida expressed his condolences to the families of the five killed, praising their efforts to bring aid to earthquake survivors.

“They were filled with a determined sense of mission, and it is extremely regrettable and distressing what has happened to them,” he said of the crew. “I express my profound condolences to the surviving families.”

He added that the disaster would not affect relief efforts for earthquake victims.

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