Japan Airlines plane bursts into flames on Tokyo runway after collision

Hundreds have been evacuated from a Japan Airlines plane after it burst into flames at Tokyo International Airport, also known as Haneda.

The plane was involved in a collision with another aircraft after landing on Tuesday. All 379 passengers on board the Japan Airlines (JAL) plane were safely evacuated, Japanese transport minister Tetsuo Saito told reporters.

Japan’s Coast Guard also confirmed that the collision involved one of its planes. Five of the six crew members from the smaller plane – bound for central Japan after Monday’s huge earthquake – died, Saito said.

The captain escaped and survived but was injured, he said, cautioning that “we’re not at the stage to explain the cause” of the accident.

A spokesperson for Haneda airport said all runways were currently closed.

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.

Passengers were then shown leaving the aircraft via an emergency chute.

Later video showed fire crews working to put out the blaze with streams of water. The flames had spread to much of the plane.

A spokesperson at JAL said the aircraft originated from New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido.

“Smoke began to fill the plane, and I thought, ‘this could be really bad’”, an adult male passenger told reporters at the airport.

“An announcement said doors in the back and middle could not be opened. So everyone disembarked from the front,” he said.

Haneda is one of the busiest airports in Japan, and many people travel over the New Year holidays.

Coast Guard spokesperson Yoshinori Yanagishima said its plane was MA-722, a Bombardier Dash-8. The plane, which is based at Haneda, had been due to head to Niigata to deliver relief goods to residents affected by a deadly earthquake in the region on Monday that killed at least 48 people.

Citing local news outlet Nippon TV, journalist Patrick Fok also said that the coastguard plane was carrying aid to Niigata.

“This really has been a troubling two days and the start of the year for people in Japan,” he told Al Jazeera.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida praised the deceased crew members on their way to help the victims of the quake.

“These were employees who had a high sense of mission and responsibility for the affected areas. It’s very regrettable,” he told reporters.

Source: AlJazeera

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