Plane Carrying 379 People Catches On Fire After Runway Crash In Tokyo
A Japan Airlines (JAL) passenger plane is seen on fire on the tarmac at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda on January 2, 2024. A Japan Airlines plane was in flames on the runway of Tokyo's Haneda Airport on January 2 after apparently colliding with a coast guard aircraft, television reports said.
Credit: Photo by RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images.

A passenger plane carrying nearly 400 people burst into flames after a suspected collision with a Japanese Coast Guard plane in Tokyo on Tuesday.  

All 379 passengers and crew onboard the passenger plane were able to evacuate safely as the plane burned, but five of the six passengers onboard the Coast Guard plane died as a result of the crash, according to local media. The incident took place on a runway at the Haneda Airport and involved Japanese Airlines flight JL516, which had just arrived from Chitose, a city on Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island. 

Footage posted online shows passengers running off the plane after it caught fire. 

“I felt a boom like we had hit something and jerked upward the moment we landed,” one passenger told Kyodo news agency, according to Reuters. “I saw sparks outside the window and the cabin filled with gas and smoke.”

Other video showed the plane totally engulfed in flames. The fire blazed for at least two hours as 70 firefighting vehicles arrived to help put out the inferno. 

The exact cause of the fire and crash is still under investigation by Japanese officials. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emmanuel offered prayers for those impacted by the crash.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the plane accident at Haneda Airport, especially the missing Japanese Coast Guard personnel who were on their way to help the victims of yesterday’s Ishikawa earthquake. As we await more information, we commend the professionalism of the flight attendants, crew, and emergency responders who successfully evacuated and saved the lives of all 367 passengers on the JAL flight,” Emmanuel said. 


At around the time of the crash, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo told travelers to expect delays due to the crash. 

“Alert: According to media reports, a fire is currently affecting a flight on a runway at [Haneda] airport in [Tokyo]. All flights have been suspended for the time being. Expect disruptions to travel. Follow local authorities’ guidance for more info,” the embassy said. 

According to Japanese outlet NHK, the Coast Guard plane had been preparing to fly to the city of Niigata to help in the wake of a massive earthquake that left at least 48 people dead. More than a dozen earthquakes were reported in the Sea of Japan late Monday night local time, the largest of which collapsed buildings and started a fire in Wajima, the city closest to the earthquake’s epicenter. 

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