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Direct speech

A passenger on a Tokyo flight: "The evacuation took a few minutes. When we ran away from the plane, it was already on fire.

A Japan Airlines plane burned almost to the ground after colliding with a Coast Guard aircraft. It all happened at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

The Japanese Broadcasting Service, citing Japan's transport minister, reported five deaths on board the Coast Guard plane. The pilot was evacuated with serious injuries. Japan Airlines officials assure that all 379 passengers and crew on board have been evacuated.

MediaLoft correspondent spoke to passenger Sergei T., who was on the plane that crashed in Tokyo on 2 January.


On how it all started:
[We were sitting] in the tail section, almost at the very end, so we were almost the last to get off. We saw the flames immediately, there was a pop and a sharp flash of flame, then a scream, the children started crying. I looked and saw that the engine or part of the wing was on fire, it was hard to see. Immediately felt warm and the smoke gradually started to get inside.

About the first thoughts and feelings:
There was no panic, at first there was a sharp fear that "if it explodes, that's it, there is no way to escape". You see, I am an engineer myself, I graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University.  We studied the basic features of aircraft construction. So I managed to calm myself down, because the chance of an explosion was extremely small. On my right, a girl started shaking and crying. I could see that she was short of air, clearly panicked.  I spoke to her, asked her name, started to calm her down (I speak Japanese).

About the organisation of the evacuation process:
At first everyone was sitting down, I think because we had already landed and people were a bit calmer. Then the smoke started to creep [into the cabin] more and more, and panic started to build up.

Children were crying and shouting "let us out, please, for God's sake, let us out". The stewardesses started to calm everyone down and in parallel to check which of the exits could be opened and the gangway lowered.

As far as I remember, only the front and rear ones were in normal condition, but I'll tell you right away that I saw everyone evacuating only through the front one. At the same time, the stewardesses were handing out some medicines from first aid kits to parents with children.

About the evacuation itself:
We were told not to panic and to get as low as possible to breathe easier. Then they started to evacuate us one by one, there was no pressure. 
At first they tried to let children and girls through. I myself let everyone who was behind me through. We were crawling or crawling, because the smoke had already enveloped everything, it was impossible to breathe higher. To be honest, one passenger not far from us tried to get his luggage, he was sworn at once, and he stopped this idea.
We crawled to the exit, there was a gangway. We went down one by one, some guys were taking 2-3 people downstairs, I think one of them was a pilot.
At first glance, everything took 2-2,5 minutes, but it is difficult to say exactly, I did not look at the time, and in such a situation everything feels different. After we got out and ran 150-200 metres away, everything was already burning. Several large fire brigades arrived at once.

About  own condition a few days later:
You'll forgive me for being frank, I don't feel very good, I'd say even shitty. But it is not critical, everything happens in life, and I am glad that everyone was saved.
I'm sorry, of course, for the guys from the coast guard, five people died in the collision and two animals in the luggage compartment.

Am I afraid of flying now? No, I don't think so. As I said above, I'm an engineer and I'm used to trusting statistics and numbers. Still, there is a greater chance of getting into an accident when driving a car than when flying, and here the problem was probably in communication between the dispatcher and the Coast Guard. Their plane shouldn't have been there in the first place (according to Japanese news reports).

The most important thing I would like to point out is definitely the Jal crew. They did everything very competently. And the fact that people did not go after the luggage is also very important. Otherwise there would have been chaos, which would have cost someone's life.

About the rules of evacuation:
It is certainly important not to panic, make sure you do everything in order, including evacuating and listening carefully to the staff. Because they go through rigorous training on how to behave in such situations. This morning, just on the Japanese news, they were showing what kind of training the JAL staff are going through, it's impressive.
You know, if my answers can save even one person, I will be very happy.

Cover photo: © AFP 2024 / STR



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