A Japan Airlines Co. passenger jet collided with a Japan Coast Guard plane at Tokyo's Haneda airport Tuesday, causing both aircraft to catch fire and killing five coast guard members, while all 379 on board the commercial flight escaped without life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the incident, which occurred on a runway of one of the country's busiest airports after the JAL plane landed, remains unknown as air traffic communication records are not disclosed. JAL said its airplane coming from Sapporo was given permission to land.

According to the coast guard, its airplane was going to take off to Niigata Prefecture to deliver food and water for people who have been affected by a magnitude-7.6 earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsula and its vicinity along the Sea of Japan coast the day before.

The coast guard did not elaborate on exactly where its plane was on the tarmac at the time of the collision.

Photo taken Jan. 2, 2024, shows a Japan Airlines airplane engulfed in flames on a runway at Tokyo's Haneda airport. (Kyodo)
Photo of a cabin window is taken by a passenger aboard Japan Airlines Flight 516, which collided with a Japan Coast Guard plane at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Jan. 2, 2024. (Provided photo)(Kyodo)

The accident occurred at around 5:47 p.m., soon after the JAL plane landed with 367 passengers on board, including eight small children.

The plane, an Airbus A350, stopped on the runway after running for a while following the collision. The passengers and crew then used emergency slides to get out of the fuselage as it was being engulfed in flames and smoke.

It took eight and a half hours for the fire on the JAL airplane to come under control, the Tokyo Fire Department said.

On the coast guard airplane, a Bombardier DHC8-300 based at the airport, the fire was also extinguished but five of the six on board, whose ages ranged from 27 to 56, were confirmed dead, according to police.

A total of 15 people were injured in the accident, including Genki Miyamoto, the coast guard plane's 39-year-old captain, according to firefighters.

Japan Airlines' aircraft burns on a runway at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Jan. 2, 2024. (Photo courtesy of a passenger)(Kyodo)
Photo taken at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Jan. 2, 2024, shows wreckage that is likely from a Japan Coast Guard plane after it collided with a Japan Airlines jetliner on a runway earlier in the day. (Kyodo)

The airport temporarily closed all four of its runways, disrupting air traffic during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year, when many people return to their hometowns to reunite with their families for the New Year holidays.

Three of the four runways, all except the one where the collision took place, were reopened at around 9:30 p.m., the transport ministry said.

JAL Managing Executive Officer Noriyuki Aoki said at a press conference, "We recognize that permission was given" for the company's Flight 516 to land.

JAL said it canceled 116 domestic flights following the accident, affecting a total of about 20,000 passengers. All Nippon Airways Co. also canceled 110 flights to and from Haneda.

The coast guard's Vice Commandant Yoshio Seguchi told a separate press conference that the captain said he escaped from the aircraft as an explosion occurred on the runway and he did not know what happened to the other crew members.

Shigenori Hiraoka, chief of the ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau who joined Seguchi at the briefing, said, "We took it as a very serious accident." But Hiraoka declined to make public any communications between air traffic control and the two airplanes before the accident.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that he instructed transport minister Tetsuo Saito to investigate the cause of the accident.

"I felt a bump, like the aircraft was colliding with something when touching down. I saw a spark outside the window and the cabin was filled with gas and smoke," one of the passengers said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said it has launched an investigation into the accident on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in death and injury.

The Japan Transport Safety Board, the ministry's affiliated agency in charge of investigating serious accidents involving airplanes, trains and ships, sent six inspectors to the scene, the ministry said.

Airbus SAS said in a statement Tuesday that the company will dispatch a team of specialists "to provide technical assistance" to the safety board of Japan.

Photo taken Jan. 2, 2024, shows a Japan Airlines airplane engulfed in flames on a runway at Tokyo's Haneda airport. (Kyodo)
People watch a burning Japan Airlines plane from a building at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Jan. 2, 2024. (Kyodo)
Photo taken Sept. 1, 2019, shows a Japan Airlines Co. Airbus A350 jetliner at Tokyo's Haneda airport. The aircraft went into service the same day. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Screenshot taken from the 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters website shows the Japan Coast Guard's Bombardier DHC-8-300 plane. (Kyodo)

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