(BrightPress.org) – A tragic collision resulted in the loss of 5 Japanese Coast Guard members on Tuesday evening, January 2nd. A Japanese passenger airliner landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport collided with a Coast Guard plane that was about to take off to administer aid to victims of a recent earthquake. All 379 passengers aboard the commercial aircraft were able to safely escape before the plane was consumed in flames.
The pilot of the Coast Guard plane was able to escape, but the other 5 crew members sadly perished in the collision.
Video and pictures shared online showed passengers yelling while attempting to escape the smoke-filled interior of the aircraft. All passengers and crew were able to safely escape in the brief period before the plane was entirely consumed by fire. It took six hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze.
The airport was closed shortly after the accident occurred, and it’s unclear how the planes were able to collide. Authorities confirmed that air traffic control had cleared the JAL Airbus A350 to land.
Passengers describe feeling a “big bump” upon landing followed by flight attendants instructing them to use emergency evacuation procedures. Fourteen injuries were reported among the passengers, but they were superficial and not critical injuries.
Transportation ministry officials indicated that the passenger flight was landing as normal and had reported no problems during its flight from New Chitose airport on Hokkaido, the largest of Japan’s northern islands.
The cause of the accident remains under scrutiny by Japanese officials. Transportation ministry officials will be joined by French and British representatives who were involved in the aircraft’s manufacture. Airbus is also sending technical advisers to aid the investigation.
Haneda Airport is one of two main hubs for Tokyo-based travelers. Many flights were canceled or delayed as a result of the clean-up and rescue operations.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida indicated that the accident won’t impact aid to earthquake victims and expressed sadness regarding the loss of the Coast Guard members.
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