Runway accident at airport leaves five dead after two planes collide

TOKYO, JP – In a runway collision at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday, five people were killed as a passenger plane and a Japanese coast guard aircraft burst into flames. Preliminary reports suggest that the Japan Airlines flight JAL-516, which was arriving from Chitose, Hokkaido, collided with a stationed Japan Coast Guard aircraft during landing.

Miraculously, all 367 passengers and 12 crew members on board the JAL flight were evacuated safely before the aircraft was engulfed in flames. The coast guard flight, which was preparing to deliver relief supplies to earthquake-stricken Niigata, recorded five fatalities among its crew members, while the pilot managed to escape.

The incident marked the first instance of severe damage to Airbus A350 – one of the industry’s latest large passenger planes that entered commercial service in 2015. The plane involved was reported to have been delivered to Japan Airlines in late 2021.

The collision occurred amidst chaotic circumstances. A passenger from the JAL plane, 17-year-old Anton Deibe, reported that thick smoke filled the cabin within minutes of the incident, causing passengers to scramble towards the emergency exits. More than 70 firefighting vehicles responded to the runway, and the fire continued to rage for about two hours post-landing.

Japan’s Transport Ministry lauded the Japan Airlines crew for “taking appropriate procedures” to ensure all passengers and crew members were safely evacuated. The investigation into the cause of the collision is currently ongoing, with a specific focus on communication between aviation control officials and the two aircraft.

While the incident is expected to cause disruption at one of Japan’s busiest airports, transport officials assured that relief operations for the earthquake-hit region would not be severely affected due to the operation of the airport’s remaining three runways.