Originally Published: 02 JAN 24 04:25 ET
Updated: 02 JAN 24 09:44 ET
By Mayumi Maruyama, Teele Rebane and Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN
(CNN) — Five people were killed when a Japan Airlines plane carrying hundreds of passengers collided with an earthquake relief aircraft and burst into flames on landing at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.
All 379 people on JAL flight 516, including eight children under the age of two, were safely evacuated from the passenger plane, according to the airline, but there were fatalities on the second aircraft, operated by the Japan Coast Guard..
The Airbus A350-900 aircraft ignited after flying into Haneda from the northern Japanese city of Sapporo at 5:46 p.m. local time (3:46 a.m. ET). Video showed a huge fireball erupt as the plane ignited, leaving a fiery trail down the runway.
Five crew members died on the second aircraft, a De Havilland Canada DHC-8, according to Japan’s transport minister, Tetsuo Saito. Public broadcaster NHK said the plane’s captain was in a critical condition.
Japan Airlines said four of its passengers were taken to hospitals but the airline has not received any additional reports of injuries, the airline’s Senior Vice President Noriyuki Aoki said in a press conference Tuesday evening.
Japan Airlines is taking part in the investigation to determine who is responsible for the deadly crash, its Senior Vice President of Corporate Safety and Security Tadayuki Tsutsumi told reporters.
While that investigation is ongoing, preliminary reports are the pilots of the Japan Airlines flight did not spot any aircraft on the runway before landing, he said. The Japan Airlines flight was confirmed to have “entered the runway as normal and began landing as normal and that there was an impact, which led to the accident, but we are still investigating further details,” he said.
After the blaze broke out, the plane was seen at a standstill with people using emergency slides to flee the inferno as firefighters tried to battle the growing flames. More than 100 fire trucks were dispatched in response to the accident, NHK reports
Guy Maestre, originally from France, was on board an adjacent plane at the time of the accident on Tuesday and describes hearing a “big bang.”
“I was hoping everyone was going to be safe,” Maestre, who had been visiting Japan from Philadelphia, told CNN, adding that it was “shocking to see.”
“I was in another plane in the window seat – we were getting ready to take off and we heard a big bang.
“We looked from our windows and saw a huge trail of flames running down the runway.
“Flames got higher and higher then we saw fire trucks go by the runway.”
Mika Yamake had been on her way to the airport to meet her husband, who was on board the JAL plane, when news of the accident broke.
“I didn’t realize it was such a big incident until I saw images on the news,” she told CNN. “At first it was just reports of smoke, but then I saw images of flames and I felt more worried. I only realized my husband was on that plane when he called me.”
“He called me from inside and told me he saw smoke coming out. I was relieved he was safe. He just came out with his mobile phone. He had to leave everything else behind.”
A Japan Coast Guard spokesman told CNN that its aircraft had been headed from Haneda airport to an airbase in Niigata prefecture to help with relief efforts following a 7.5-magnitude earthquake on Monday.
Flight 516 had been heading inbound to Haneda from Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido prefecture. The airline said it was carrying a total of 367 passengers, including eight infants, plus 12 crew members.
The majority of departures from Haneda Airport are now canceled and it’s unclear when flight services will resume, NHK reports.
CNN’s Emiko Jozuka, Eric Cheung and Mayumi Maruyama contributed to this article
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Japan plane crash
**This image is for use with this specific article only** A Japan Airlines A350 airplane on fire at Haneda international airport in Tokyo.
02 Jan 24