In a harrowing incident at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, a Japan Airlines (JAL) Airbus A350 collided with a Coast Guard aircraft, resulting in a fiery catastrophe. Here’s a detailed account of the incident that unfolded on January 2, 2024.
The Tragic Collision
The JAL Airbus A350 burst into flames after colliding with the Coast Guard plane, causing the smaller aircraft’s tragic crash and resulting in the loss of five out of six crew members. Despite the severity of the collision, all 379 passengers on the JAL plane managed to escape, marking a miraculous evacuation.
Chaotic Evacuation Scene
Live footage broadcasted by NHK captured the terrifying moments as the airliner skidded down the runway engulfed in flames. Passengers, amidst thick smoke, could be seen running across the tarmac after deploying evacuation slides. A child’s voice, pleading for a swift exit, emphasized the urgency of the situation.
Speedy Evacuation Amidst Chaos
Despite the chaos, all 367 passengers and 12 crew members were successfully evacuated, and the fire was finally extinguished after burning for over six hours. The prompt response and efficient evacuation efforts were lauded by both passengers and aviation experts.
Praise for the Evacuation Miracle
Passengers and aviation experts alike commended the speed and effectiveness of the evacuation. Tsubasa Sawada, a 28-year-old passenger, described the incident as a “miracle,” highlighting the potential catastrophic outcome if the evacuation had been delayed.
Paul Hayes, Director of Air Safety at Ascend by Cirium, acknowledged the cabin crew’s excellence in executing the evacuation. He emphasized the critical importance of passengers not carrying hand luggage during evacuations to ensure a swift exit.
Investigation into the Cause
While the immediate focus is on the miraculous evacuation, authorities are launching a thorough investigation into the cause of the collision. The Japan Transport Safety Board, along with international representatives from France and Britain, is determined to unravel the sequence of events leading to this tragic incident.
Impact on Airport Operations
The aftermath of the collision temporarily closed Haneda airport, causing disruptions to flight schedules. However, the airport has since resumed operations on three runways. Airlines, including JAL’s rival ANA, had to cancel numerous domestic flights, affecting travel plans for the rest of the day.
Prime Minister’s Response
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida expressed sorrow over the deaths of the Coast Guard crew and emphasized the importance of ensuring the incident does not hamper the delivery of earthquake relief supplies to those in need.