JAL jumbo crash remembered in a year of disasters

August 12, 2014 - 2:09:32 pm

TOKYO: Some 200 people hiked up a mountain northwest of Tokyo to the spot where a Japan Airlines jumbo jet crashed 29 years ago Tuesday in the world's deadliest single-aircraft accident.

The event in memory of the 520 victims assumed a new significance in a year marked by major air and sea disasters.

"I wish that people in charge of public transportation would always bear in mind that they are responsible for the lives and families of passengers," Kunio Kobayashi, whose wife's only brother perished in the 1985 accident, told Japanese media.

He was speaking at the crash site on Osutaka Ridge, 120 kilometres (75 miles) northwest of Tokyo.

"My daughter is in her second year of high school. Children of her generation in South Korea fell victim and were deprived of happy lives," the 53-year-old said, referring to a ferry disaster in April that killed about 300 people, mostly students.

In March a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared with 239 people on board while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In July Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in an apparent missile strike, killing all 298 on board.

Also last month, a Taiwanese TransAsia Airways flight crashed and killed 48 of 58 people on board.

About 220 people, mostly bereaved relatives, braved rain and climbed to a height of 1,565 metres (5,135 feet) where JAL Boeing 747 with 524 people aboard crashed on a flight from Tokyo to Osaka. Only four people survived.

They gathered at a memorial and rang a "bell of safety" installed at the site.

"An accident not only changes the life of a victim but also the lives of his or her family," Kimiko Yoshida, 80, whose eldest daughter died in the accident at the age of 24, told the Jiji Press news agency.

"I wish people in the transportation business would work with this in mind all the time."

The JAL accident was blamed on improper repairs to a rear bulkhead, which collapsed and ruptured hydraulic systems, leaving the plane uncontrollable for half an hour before crashing. (AFP)