A Japan Airlines plane caught fire after colliding with a coastguard aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday, January 2, 2024. The incident resulted in five deaths, hundreds of evacuations, and major disruptions at Japan’s busiest aviation hub. This article will provide more details about the Japan plane fire, its causes, and its aftermath.
Details of the Japan Plane Fire
The Japan plane fire occurred around 9:30 a.m. local time, when a Japan Airlines Boeing 777, bound for Seoul, South Korea, collided with a Japan Coast Guard Beechcraft King Air 350, involved in earthquake relief efforts. The coastguard aircraft had taken off from a nearby air base and was heading to the west coast of Japan, where a 7.5-magnitude earthquake had struck a day earlier.
The collision caused a fireball to erupt from the left engine of the passenger plane, which quickly spread to the fuselage and the wing. The coastguard aircraft also burst into flames and crashed on the runway. CCTV footage showed customers and staff pausing for a moment before scrambling for the exit.
Casualties and Evacuations
Five of the six crew members on board the coastguard aircraft were confirmed dead by the authorities. The sixth crew member was severely injured and taken to a hospital. The passenger plane had 379 people on board, including 362 passengers and 17 crew members. All of them were safely evacuated from the plane using emergency slides. No injuries were reported among the passengers, although about 30 of them said they felt unwell.
The incident prompted authorities to temporarily close down Haneda airport, which handles around 550 flights a day and 75 million passengers a year. Three of the airport’s four runways were reopened later in the day, but by 6:30 p.m. local time, 297 flights had been canceled and 57 planes diverted elsewhere.
Possible Causes of the Collision
The exact cause of the collision is still under investigation by the Japan Transport Safety Board and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau. According to some reports, the collision occurred on the runway, while others suggested it happened on the taxiway. Some witnesses said they heard a loud bang before seeing the fire, while others said they saw the coastguard aircraft flying low and hitting the passenger plane.
The weather conditions at the time of the incident were clear and sunny, with no strong winds or visibility issues. The airport’s air traffic control system was also functioning normally, according to officials. However, some experts speculated that human error, mechanical failure, or communication breakdown could have contributed to the collision.
Updates and Reactions
The latest updates on the Japan plane fire are as follows:
- The Japan Airlines has issued an apology to the passengers and the public for the inconvenience and distress caused by the incident. The airline has also offered compensation and support to the affected passengers and their families.
- The Japan Coast Guard has expressed its condolences to the families of the deceased crew members and vowed to cooperate with the investigation. The coastguard has also suspended its earthquake relief operations until further notice.
- The Japan Prime Minister has visited the scene of the incident and praised the quick response of the emergency services and the airport staff. He has also ordered a thorough probe into the cause of the collision and promised to take measures to prevent such accidents in the future.
- The South Korea Foreign Ministry has confirmed that none of the passengers on board the Japan Airlines plane were South Korean nationals. The ministry has also expressed its sympathy to the victims and their families and offered its assistance to the Japanese authorities.
The reactions from the witnesses and the officials are as follows:
- A passenger on board the Japan Airlines plane said he felt a strong impact and saw flames outside the window. He said he was scared and panicked, but followed the instructions of the crew members to evacuate the plane. He said he was grateful to be alive and thanked the crew for their professionalism and courage.
- A staff member at the airport said he saw the coastguard aircraft flying low and hitting the passenger plane. He said he heard a loud explosion and saw a huge fireball. He said he ran to the nearest exit and helped the passengers to escape. He said he was shocked and saddened by the incident and hoped for the recovery of the injured.
- An official from the Japan Transport Safety Board said the collision was a rare and serious incident that could have caused more casualties and damage. He said the investigation team would collect and analyze the data from the black boxes, the radar, and the witnesses. He said the investigation could take several months to complete and determine the cause of the collision.
The Japan plane fire was a tragic and shocking incident that claimed five lives, disrupted hundreds of flights, and raised questions about the safety of air travel in Japan. The authorities are conducting a comprehensive investigation to find out the cause of the collision and prevent such accidents in the future. The passengers, the crew, and the public are hoping for a swift and transparent resolution of the case.