Eerie find on map 35 years after crash
Eagle-eyed aviation fans have spotted a flight on an online tracker - even though it crashed 35 years ago, killing 520 on board.
Stunned web users splashed screengrabs of the find across social media last week after finding flight number JL123 showing up on the flight tracker near Tokyo, just a few days before the anniversary of the deadly incident.
Japan Airlines 123 (JL123) crashed into mountains in Gunma Prefecture in 1985 after taking off from Haneda Airport in Tokyo on a flight bound for Osaka.
Following the tragedy, Japan Airlines retired the flight number 123. Yet it appeared on the tracking website Flight Radar 24 on August 5.
Shocked onlookers took to Twitter to report the find, which Japan Airlines says was the result of an IT error.
"Um, they're using Japan Airlines 123 (JL123) … Why??" one shocked user wrote, as reported by Japanese news site SoraNews24.
Screengrabs posted alongside the tweet showed a plane marked JL123 approaching Narita Airport. Others showed the mysterious aircraft parked at the airport near Tokyo.
The glitch sparked interest online in-part due to its proximity to the crash's August 12 anniversary, as well as Japan's Obon festival from August 13-16. Also known as the "holiday of souls", the event is traditionally considered the time when the souls of the dead return to the realm of the living.
Following the social media hysterics, a Japan Airlines spokesperson confirmed that JL123 did appear on the radar.
Speaking to J-Cast News, they said the number was randomly chosen by an IT technician during routine maintenance, SoraNews24 reports.
The aircraft in question was actually flight JL712, returning to Narita from Singapore.
IT staff arbitrarily relabelled the plane JL123 between 11.56pm and 12.22am, the spokesperson said.
Japan Airlines apologised for the confusion and promised to train staff to avoid certain flight numbers during IT checks in future.
Incredibly, while the 1985 crash killed 520, four people survived. The passengers all seated in the rear left row were in the only section of the aircraft which stayed intact. They were a 12-year-old girl, an off-duty flight attendant, and a mother and daughter.
The crash is the deadliest single-aircraft accident in aviation history. The Boeing 747SR aircraft was hit by a sudden decompression that crippled the plane's tail 12 minutes into the flight.
Japan's Aircraft Accident Investigation Commission officially concluded that the decompression was caused by a faulty repair by Boeing technicians in 1978 that went unnoticed for seven years.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission
Originally published as Eerie find on map 35 years after crash