Korean Air evacuated passengers and crew from an aircraft preparing to take off from Japan’s Haneda Airport in Tokyo after smoke came from its left engine. There were 302 passengers and 17 crew members on board.
All passengers and crew members disembarked and there were 18 people with injuries, a spokesman for Japan’s transport ministry told. The extent of the injuries isn’t known yet, he said.
More than 100 firefighters and rescue workers put out the blaze within an hour. The runway the jet was moving down has been closed. All other flights have been halted for safety. The aircraft, which was due to fly to Seoul in South Korea, is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.
The incident prompted authorities to temporarily close down Japan’s busiest aviation hub. Three of the airport’s four runways were reopened later in the day, but by 0630 GMT, 297 flights had been cancelled with 57 planes diverted elsewhere.
Korean Air said it sent a special flight later in the afternoon to bring back the passengers, calling it an urgent priority for the air carrier. The returning flight was set to return at 6:00 p.m. to Gimpo International Airport, near Seoul.
The Japanese police said the fire did not appear to have been caused by an act of terrorism, with some suggesting the possibility as Japan was hosting the G7 leaders’ summit.
Haneda Airport, located on Tokyo Bay, handles around 550 flights a day, with around 75 million passengers passing through last year, making it one of the world’s busiest airports.