Plane wreckage being cleared from Tokyo airport after collision
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Plane wreckage being cleared from Tokyo airport after collision

The burnt wreckage of a passenger jet that collided with a coast guard plane at Haneda Airport in Tokyo was being cleared from the tarmac on Friday, TV footage showed. Japan Airlines also confirmed that work was under way to remove their destroyed plane after the collision on Tuesday, in which five of the six crew members of the smaller plane died but all 379 people on board the airliner survived. The collision on January 2 at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport saw the Japan Airlines flight with 379 people on board hit the coast guard plane on the ground. An orange ball of fire and black smoke erupted underneath the JAL airliner as it sped down the runway. Footage shot by passengers showed flames underneath the plane and smoke filling the cabin as babies cried and people shouted for the doors to be opened. In one video clip, a young voice can be heard shouting: “Please let us out. Please. Please open it. Just open it. Oh, god.” With only three of the plane’s emergency exits able to be opened, cabin crew managed to evacuate all those on board. It took 18 minutes to evacuate the entire plane, with the pilot the last person to set foot on the tarmac. “Honestly, I thought we wouldn’t survive,” another woman told broadcaster NHK. In the end, only two passengers suffered physical injuries such as bruises or twisted limbs, JAL said. Soon afterwards, the entire aircraft was an inferno and dozens of fire engines were trying to put out the blaze. – Transcript – Investigators were yet to draw conclusions publicly about the cause of the accident. The flight recorder and voice recorder from the coast guard plane have been found, as has the flight recorder from the passenger jet — but not its voice recorder. According to a communications transcript released by the Japanese government, the Japan Airlines flight JAL-516 arriving from Hokkaido was cleared at 5:44 pm by air traffic control to land. On the tarmac, the coast guard plane was instructed 15 seconds later to “taxi to holding point C5” near the edge of the runway. The pilot acknowledged the order immediately afterwards. Roughly two minutes later, the Japan Airlines flight landed and hit the coast guard’s DHC-8 aircraft, suggesting that the latter had proceeded onto the actual runway. JA722A captain Genki Miyamoto, its only survivor, said immediately after the accident that he had permission to take off, broadcaster NHK reported. The JAL flight crew had no “visual contact” of the other plane, although one of them spotted “an object” just before impact, an airline spokesman told AFP on Thursday. “After the plane landed and around the time when the front wheels touched or were about to touch the ground — during those few seconds, they said they felt an impact,” the spokesman said. Experts said it was remarkable that the passengers appeared to have left their belongings behind on the plane, including at least one pet dog and one cat. “Passengers seemed to have followed instructions in a textbook manner,” Terence Fan, an airline industry expert from Singapore Management University, told AFP. “This is exactly what evacuation policies are designed for — the airframe itself is not meant to survive the blaze, ultimately.”

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