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What we know about the Japan Airlines plane crash

A Japan Airlines plane erupted in flames after it crashed into a Japanese Coast Guard plane on Tuesday.

This photo provided by Jiji Press shows a Japan Airlines plane on fire on a runway of Tokyo's Haneda Airport on January 2, 2024.STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images

Everyone on the Japan Airlines flight was safely evacuated, but most of the crew members on the Coast Guard plane died in the collision.

Here's everything we know so far about what happened.

On Tuesday, Japan Airlines Flight 516 took off from Sapporo, located on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, carrying hundreds of passengers, and landed at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.


As the Airbus A350-900 aircraft was landing on the runway, it collided with a Coast Guard MA722 plane that was traveling to Tokyo to assist in earthquake relief efforts.

Video showed the Japan Airlines plane burst into flames as it raced down the runway.

All 379 people on board Japan Airlines Flight 516, including 12 crew members, survived the crash and safely evacuated the burning plane. At least 14 people were injured, according to Reuters.

The people on board may have survived thanks to plane safety features and training. Graham Braithwaite, a flight safety expert at Cranfield University in the UK, told Business Insider that safety rules require aircraft to be built to be evacuated in only 90 seconds and with only half of its exits available for use.


A spokesperson for Japan Airlines told The New York Times that only three of the exit doors were available due to the fire. She added that crew members are trained to evacuate an entire plane in 90 seconds and that the aircraft had been evacuated in minutes.

The outlet reported that the video showed passengers evacuating via emergency slides.

Five of the six Coast Guard members on the earthquake-relief plane died in the crash, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, with the pilot alive but injured.


A Swedish teenager who was on the plane told the outlet Aftonbladet, "The entire cabin was filled with smoke within a few minutes," the Associated Press reported.

"The smoke in the cabin stung like hell. It was a hell," he said, adding they threw themselves at the emergency doors once they opened. "We have no idea where we are going, so we just run out into the field. It was chaos."

Video that appeared to be taken inside the Japan Airlines flight cabin showed smoke in the air and passengers shouting as the flames could be seen outside the windows.

"I felt a boom, like we had hit something and jerked upward the moment we landed," one passenger told Kyodo News, according to the BBC. "I saw sparks outside the window, and the cabin filled with gas and smoke."


Japan Airlines said the cause of the crash is still under investigation and that they are cooperating with Japanese officials.

However, it appears the Japanese Airlines flight had been cleared to land. According to the airline, the crew said air traffic control had cleared them to land, adding that the pilots "acknowledged and repeated the landing permission from air traffic control" before proceeding, the Times reported.

The Japan Transport Safety Board, police, and other agencies are also investigating the cause of the crash, Japan Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito said.


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