Search This Blog

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Two dead, dozens injured in San Francisco Asiana Airlines plane crash

A Boeing 777 from South Korea crash landed Saturday morning at San Francisco International Airport killing at least two and injuring dozens. One person is missing.

It was not immediately clear what happened to the Asiana Airlines plane from Seoul, but eyewitnesses said that it appeared to sway back and forth kicking up dust during the landing, with reports indicating that the tail broke off from some impact.

Kate Belding was out jogging just before 11:30 a.m. on a path the water from the airport when she noticed the plane approaching the runway in a way that "just didn't look like it was coming in quite right."

"Then all of a sudden I saw what looked like a cloud of dirt puffing up and then there was a big bang and it kind of looked like the plane maybe bounced (as it neared the ground)," she said. "I couldn't really tell what happened, but you saw the wings going up and (in) a weird angle."

TV news footage showed the top of the fuselage was burned away and the entire tail gone. One engine appeared to have broken away and pieces of the tail were strewn about the runway.

Moments after the violent landing, passengers, many of whom appeared unhurt, were able to escape via inflatable ramps, while others were taken to area hospitals.

Officials were trying to account for all of the 307 passengers and crew, a task made more difficult by the language barrier and the fact that some passengers likely escaped unscathed and may have simply left the airport.

Officials said at a press conference Saturday night that one passenger remains missing. The official tally given was 181 people immediately taken to the hospital, 132 treated at a triage and 123 were found in the terminal uninjured. The identity of the missing person is not immediately clear.

Asiana Airlines said there were 77 Koreans, 141 Chinese, 61 U.S. citizens and one Japanese citizen on board the plane. It also said it is fully cooperating with the investigation.

"This is a work in progress," said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, adding the investigation has been turned over to the FBI and that terrorism has been ruled out.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says Flight 214 was supposed to land on runway 28 left at San Francisco International Airport at 11:26 PDT. Its flight itinerary was from Shanghai  to Seoul and  San Francisco.

She said the sequence of events was still unclear, but it appeared the plane landed and then crashed.

A video clip posted to YouTube shows smoke coming from the silver-colored Boeing 777 jet on the tarmac. Passengers could be seen jumping down the inflatable emergency slides.

Fire trucks could be seen spraying white fire retardant on the wreckage.

Television footage showed the top of the fuselage was burned away and the entire tail was gone. One engine appeared to have broken away. Pieces of the tail were strewn about the runway. Emergency responders could be seen walking inside the burned-out wreckage.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to San Francisco to probe the crash. NTSB spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Saturday that NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman would head the team.

Boeing said it was preparing to provide technical assistance to the NTSB.

Numerous flights headed to San Francisco were diverted to other airports. A United Airlines flight bound for San Francisco was sent to Los Angeles airport, and passengers were told the San Francisco airport would be closed for at least three hours Saturday afternoon.

Asiana is a South Korean airline, second in size to national carrier Korean Air. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the Star Alliance, which is anchored in the U.S. by United Airlines.

The 777-200 is a long-range plane from Boeing. The twin-engine aircraft is one of the world's most popular long-distance planes, often used for flights of 12 hours or more, from one continent to another. The airline's website says its 777s can carry between 246 to 300 passengers.

The flight was 10 hours and 23 minutes, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. The aircraft is configured to seat 295 passengers, it said.

The Boeing 777 is a smaller, wide-body jet that can travel long distances without refueling and is typically used for long flights over water.

A tweet from Boeing said the company's thoughts are with those affected by the crash. “Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s incident at SFO,” Boeing said on its Twitter account. “We stand ready to assist the NTSB.”

President Obama was also informed of the crash the White House said in a statement.

"The President has been made aware of the situation and his team will update him as new information becomes available. We will continue to stay in constant contact with our federal, state and local partners as they respond to this event," the statement said.

David Eun, a Samsung executive who was aboard the flight, sent out an online message immediately after the landing.

“I just crash landed at SFO," Eun said. "Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok.”

President Obama, who was at Camp David in Maryland, was informed of the crash and was being kept up to date by local, state and federal authorities, the White House said.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said she, her family and several colleagues had been scheduled for the flight but had switched at the last minute.

“Taking a minute to be thankful and explain what happened," Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post. "My family, colleagues Debbie Frost, Charlton Gholson and Kelly Hoffman and I were originally going to take the Asiana flight that just crash-landed."

One passenger who didn’t want to give his name told The Los Angeles Times that most passengers on the flight were unharmed.

"I just want their families to know," he said. "Most of the people seem OK and we’re just letting the paramedics do their job."

The airline, founded in 1988, is based in Seoul, South Korea. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the oneWorld alliance, anchored by American Airlines and British Airways.


No comments:

Post a Comment