At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, a Japan Airlines Airbus A350 and a Japanese coast guard aircraft collided on the runway. It is leading to a devastating burst of flames. Fortunately, all 379 occupants on Japan Airlines Flight 516 managed to evacuate safely before the aircraft was engulfed in flames. However, the coast guard plane’s pilot sustained injuries, and tragically, five crewmembers lost their lives.
Eyewitnesses described a moment of impact upon landing, with a passenger recounting a boom and sudden upward jolt. The Tokyo Fire Department reported at least 17 injuries among those evacuated from the passenger plane.
Dramatic footage captured the Japan Airlines plane erupting in fire and smoke as it taxied on the runway. The Airbus A350, arriving from Shin Chitose airport, collided with the coast guard’s Bombardier Dash-8 maritime patrol plane during a routine landing attempt. Initial reports indicated no engine or technical issues with the passenger plane before the incident.
The coast guard aircraft, flight MA 722, a Bombardier Dash-8 based at Haneda, was en route to Niigata to deliver relief goods to victims of a recent earthquake that claimed at least 48 lives. Videos and images shared on social media depicted chaotic scenes inside the smoke-filled cabin, with passengers shouting and evacuating via emergency slides.
Passengers fleeing for rescue
Witnesses, including 17-year-old passenger Anton Deibe, described the cabin filling with smoke within minutes, prompting a frantic escape. The evacuation, though intense, proceeded calmly, with passengers fleeing across the runway to safety.
Haneda Airport is currently closed as aviation safety investigators and police conduct a thorough inquiry into the collision. Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito expressed hope for a prompt reopening, possibly by Wednesday. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida assured the public that efforts were underway to ensure the accident wouldn’t disrupt the delivery of earthquake relief supplies.
The collision has sent shockwaves through Japan. It gave Haneda’s status as one of the busiest airports, especially during the New Year holidays. The tragedy has prompted reflections on the dedication of the crew members, who were fulfilling their duties with a strong sense of mission and responsibility for the earthquake victims.