Nearly 400 Escape Burning Plane on Tokyo Runway

5 members of Japan's coast guard dead at Haneda airport
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 2, 2024 5:26 AM CST
Updated Jan 2, 2024 6:32 AM CST
After Collision, Plane Becomes a Fireball
A Japan Airlines plane is on fire on the runway of Haneda airport on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024 in Tokyo, Japan.   (Kyodo News via AP)

A passenger plane collided with a Japanese coast guard aircraft and burst into flames on the runway of Tokyo's Haneda Airport on Tuesday, officials said. NHK TV reported that all occupants of Japan Airlines flight JAL-516, believed to total 379 people, got out safely before the plane was entirely engulfed in flames, per the AP. The Japanese coast guard, which operated the other plane, said its pilot had escaped but five other crewmembers have been found dead.

Local TV video showed a large eruption of fire and smoke from the side of the Japan Airlines plane as it taxied on a runway. The area around the wing then caught fire. Footage an hour later showed the plane fully on fire. NHK TV said the plane was an Airbus A-350 that had flown from Shin Chitose airport, near the city of Sapporo, to Haneda, one of the busiest airports in Japan. The Coast Guard confirmed the collision between the passenger plane and its flight MA-722, a Bombardier Dash-8. The plane had been headed to Japan's Niigata airport to deliver aid in the aftermath of Monday's earthquake, per Reuters.

Swede Anton Deibe, 17, who was a passenger on the Japan Airlines plane, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that "the entire cabin was filled with smoke within a few minutes." Passengers threw themselves on the floor until the emergency doors were thrown open. "It was hell," he says. "We had no idea where we are going so we just ran out into the field. It was chaos." Updated with new details. (More Japan Airlines stories.)

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