Five crew members of a Coast Guard plane were killed after it collided with a Japan Airlines aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.
The Coast Guard said the collision involved one of its planes that was preparing to fly to Niigata airport on Japan’s west coast to deliver aid to those hit by a powerful earthquake that struck the island country on New Year’s Day.
The captain of the Coast Guard’s Bombardier-built Dash-8 maritime patrol plane escaped and survived but was injured.
“I express my respect and gratitude to the employees who performed their jobs with a strong sense of mission and responsibility, and I pray that their souls may rest in peace,” Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said as he condoled the deaths.
On the other hand, all 379 people on board the passenger plane, which caught fire after the collision, were evacuated.
Reports said that at least 17 of the people evacuated from the passenger plane were injured.
The plane, an Airbus 350-900, had arrived from Sapporo New Chitose Airport in Japan.
Pictures and live footage showed the aircraft bursting into flames as it skidded down the runway. It was later overwhelmed by the blaze shortly after the 367 passengers and 12 crew were evacuated.
Haneda, which is one of the two main airports serving Tokyo, was closed for several hours following the collision.
(With agency inputs)