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Japan Airlines plane in flames on runway at Tokyo airport

A Japan Airlines flight carrying hundreds of passengers on Tuesday caught fire on a runway at Tokyo’s Haneda airport after colliding with a Japan Coast Guard aircraft.

Citing Tokyo police, Japanese national broadcaster NHK said five of the six crew members on the Coast Guard aircraft had been confirmed dead. The pilot, who evacuated, is reportedly severely injured.

The Coast Guard aircraft was heading to Niigata to provide relief for the recent earthquake, according to initial reports.

A spokesperson for Japan Airlines said that all 367 passengers and 12 crew members safely evacuated from the Japan Airlines Airbus A350, which was seen engulfed in flames.

The flight, JL516, departed from the northern island of Hokkaido and landed at Tokyo Haneda at 5:47 p.m. local time (3:47 a.m. ET).

Japan Airlines’ A350 airplane is on fire at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan January 2, 2024.

Issei Kato | Reuters

Dramatic video footage posted to social media showed passengers using an emergency evacuation slide and running across the tarmac.

Japan Airlines said 11 passengers on board the burning plane were transported to a hospital or airport clinic due to feeling unwell. It did not provide any further details about their condition.

All runways at Haneda airport were closed as emergency workers tackled the blaze. Tokyo’s Haneda airport was the busiest airport in the Asia-Pacific region last year, according to flight data provider OAG.

A transport ministry official said three runways have now resumed operation, Reuters reported.

Japanese Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito provided an update shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tokyo time and confirmed five of the six crew of the Coast Guard aircraft had died.

Japan Airlines’ A350 airplane is on fire at Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan January 2, 2024. 

Issei Kato | Reuters

Saito said the cause of the incident was still unknown, according to Reuters.

European planemaker Airbus said it is sending a team of specialists to provide technical assistance to French and Japanese authorities as they investigate the collision at Haneda airport.

“Our concerns and sympathy go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident,” Airbus said on Tuesday.

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