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1966: Passenger jet crashes into Mount Fuji

A Boeing 707 has crashed into Mount Fuji in Japan killing all 124 people on board.

The BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) plane plunged into the wooded slopes of the dormant volcano, 25 minutes after taking off from Tokyo International Airport.

This was the third American-built aircraft to crash in the area in about a month. Early in February, a Japanese Boeing 727 crashed in Tokyo bay, with the loss of 133 lives. And less than 24 hours ago a DC-8 of Canadian Pacific Airlines crashed on landing at Tokyo killing all 64 people on board.

Witnesses who saw today's crash reported seeing pieces break off the Boeing in the air.

One said: "The aircraft was flying as high as Mount Fuji and I could see smoke at its tail. I heard a bang and afterwards the tail and the main fuselage broke apart and the aircraft began spinning down. Just before impact the nose and the fuselage parted."

Air currents

Two British teams of investigators are being sent to Japan to investigate the crash. An official from the United States Civil Aeronautics Board will also travel to Tokyo.

The plane had been grounded the night before the crash at Fukuoka in the south of Japan because of bad weather in the Tokyo area. It had flown on to the Japanese capital in the morning.

The crash occurred en route to its next stop, Hong Kong.

Captain Bernard Dobson, 45, from Poole in Dorset, was in command of the airliner. He has been described as a very experienced 707 pilot and had been flying these aircraft since November 1960.

Violent air currents can be experienced near Mount Fuji, which is the highest mountain in Japan.

Of the victims identified so far, 37 were American, two British, two Chinese, one Canadian, one New Zealander and 13 Japanese.

In Context
The investigation into the crash found the aircraft was trailing white vapour as it left Tokyo, then suddenly began losing altitude and parts of the aircraft began to break away.

Finally over Tarobo at an altitude of approximately 2000m, the fuselage came apart.

It is thought the pilot may have been trying to give his passengers a good view of Mount Fuji when he suddenly encountered abnormally severe turbulence, which caused the aircraft to break up.


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