Japan airliner inferno: Miracle as ‘all 379 passengers are evacuated’ as flames engulf plane ‘after it collided with coast guard aircraft’ at Tokyo’s Haneda airport

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Written By Maya Cantina

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A large airliner carrying 379 passengers exploded today at an airport near Tokyo after colliding with a coastguard plane as it came into land, Japanese media reported.

Shocking footage showed the Japan Airlines jet engulfed in a raging inferno as it sat on the runway at Haneda Airport, in Ota City, Tokyo, with gouts of flame seen pouring out of the passenger windows. 

One horrific clip showed the flames licking from the airliner’s main cabin door as smouldering debris fell from the fuselage onto the tarmac, while another showed passengers sprinting along the runway to escape the blaze.

A Japan Airlines spokesperson told Japanese broadcaster NHK that all 379 passengers aboard the aircraft – JAL flight 516 Airbus A-350 – at the time of the explosion were successfully evacuated from the stricken plane.

There has been no official confirmation of casualties or injured, but a successful evacuation of all passengers and crew would be a truly miraculous feat given the blaze completely gutted the plane and melted through huge chunks of its bodywork.

Images from the scene showed how the passenger escape slide protruding from one of the airliner’s doors was set ablaze as more flames burned within the cabin. 

Meanwhile, a coastguard official confirmed a coastguard aircraft was involved in the incident, with NHK reporting one crewmember had escaped that plane but five others remained unaccounted for. 

The Japanese Airlines flight had flown out of Shin Chitose airport in Japan and was landing at Haneda airport when the disaster occurred.

A large airliner carrying 367 passengers exploded today at an airport near Tokyo after colliding with a coastguard plane as it came into land, Japanese media reported

A Japanese Airlines plane caught fire at Tokyo's Haneda Airport after colliding with a coastguard aircraft

A Japanese Airlines plane caught fire at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport after colliding with a coastguard aircraft

Shocking footage showed the Japan Airlines jet engulfed in a raging inferno as it sat on the runway at Haneda Airport, in Ota City, Tokyo, with gouts of flame seen pouring out of the passenger windows

Shocking footage showed the Japan Airlines jet engulfed in a raging inferno as it sat on the runway at Haneda Airport, in Ota City, Tokyo, with gouts of flame seen pouring out of the passenger windows

The evacuation ramp is engulfed in flames

The evacuation ramp is engulfed in flames

A brutal blaze quickly spread throughout the plane

A brutal blaze quickly spread throughout the plane 

Smouldering debris can be seen falling from the fuselage onto the tarmac

Smouldering debris can be seen falling from the fuselage onto the tarmac 

Footage taken aboard another plane shows the inferno below

Footage taken aboard another plane shows the inferno below

A Japan Airlines plane is on fire on the runway of Tokyo's Haneda airport on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)

A Japan Airlines plane is on fire on the runway of Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024. (Kyodo News via AP)

The Japanese Airlines flight had flown out of Shin Chitose airport in Japan and was landing at Haneda airport when the disaster occurred

The Japanese Airlines flight had flown out of Shin Chitose airport in Japan and was landing at Haneda airport when the disaster occurred

A coast guard official at Haneda Airport, one of the world’s busiest, said they were ‘checking details’ of the reported collision and initially could not confirm what had happened.

‘It’s not clear if there was a collision. But it is certain that our plane is involved,’ he told AFP. 

But another spokesperson told Japanese media that their MA-722 aircraft might have collided with the JAL flight on the runway.

NHK reported that one member of the crew from the coastguard plane escaped but the remaining five are unaccounted for. 

The television footage showed flames coming out of windows and the plane’s nose on the ground as rescue workers sprayed it with several water hoses. There was also burning debris on the runway.

More than 70 fire engines were being deployed to the scene to extinguish the raging inferno, NHK reported.

Wide angle images of the scene showed a large section of the runway covered in flames, with debris littering huge swathes of the tarmac. 

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

Japan has not suffered a serious commercial aviation accident in decades.

Its worst ever was in 1985, when a JAL jumbo jet flying from Tokyo to Osaka crashed in central Gunma region, killing 520 passengers and crew.

That disaster was one of the world’s deadliest plane crashes involving a single flight.

The terrifying incident at Haneda airport comes just one day after a brutal 7.6 magnitude earthquake devastated huge swathes of Japan‘s west coast, killing dozens of people and levelling tens of thousands of homes.

Firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the flames

Firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish the flames

The blaze lit up the night sky at Haneda airport

The blaze lit up the night sky at Haneda airport

Both the passenger plane and the coastguard plane caught alight amid the collision

Both the passenger plane and the coastguard plane caught alight amid the collision

An image taken within the airport terminal shows the fire outside on the runway

An image taken within the airport terminal shows the fire outside on the runway

The runway is seen ablaze in this picture

The runway is seen ablaze in this picture

A huge inferno is seen engulfing the plane in this footage

A huge inferno is seen engulfing the plane in this footage

Travellers look on in shock and despair as the plane burns on the runway

Travellers look on in shock and despair as the plane burns on the runway

Forty-eight people were confirmed dead in Ishikawa, the prefecture worst hit by the tremblor, officials said on Tuesday afternoon, while damage to homes was so great that it could not immediately be assessed.

The savage incident sparked a wave of panic buying across Japan, as residents lucky enough to have avoided the devastation sought to stock up on essentials even as aftershocks continued to shake Ishikawa and nearby areas a day after the 7.6 magnitude quake slammed the area on Monday afternoon.

One building, believed to be a seven-storey block, was seen lying on its side while a temple in Suzu City is said to have been completely destroyed. Shocking images show how even houses specially designed to withstand earthquakes were flattened, with abandoned cars tossed about and engulfed by huge crevices in the road. 

A major search and rescue operation continued into Tuesday, with Japan’s Prime Minister saying that rescue efforts had been made ‘extremely difficult due to damage to roads’ in the Ishikawa prefecture, near the epicentre of the quake.

But fears are growing that time is running out to find survivors trapped beneath the surface. The main highway through the district was completely closed, according to reports. 

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