San Francisco plane crash 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 with 307 people on board crashed and burst into flames as it landed at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday after a flight from Seoul, and initial reports said two people were killed and more than 130 sent to hospitals.
After approaching the airport across San Francisco Bay, the plane appeared to strike the edge of the approach area of the runway. The tail came off and the aircraft left a trail of debris before coming to rest beside the runway.
One survivor said the pilot seemed to be trying to gain height just before the aircraft struck the runway. There was no immediate indication of the cause of the crash and federal officials were traveling from Washington to investigate.
Pictures taken by survivors immediately after the crash showed passengers emerging from the wrecked plane and hurrying away. TV footage later showed the fuselage of the Boeing 777 blackened by fire and the interior apparently gutted.
Asiana Airlines said the flight, which had originated in Shanghai, had carried 291 passengers and 16 crew members.
San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanna Hayes-White said two people were killed and 130 were taken to hospitals. A total of 69 people were still unaccounted for, as officials tracked down the passengers in the confusion after the crash.
Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital, said 15 injured people were being treated there and 10 were in critical condition with burns, fractures and internal injuries. She said most of them spoke only Korean.AIRCRAFT'S TAIL BROKE OFF
Images on television station KTVU in San Francisco showed emergency chutes had been deployed from at least two of the aircraft's exits.
Survivor Benjamin Levy told local a local NBC station by phone that he believed the plane had been coming in too low.
"I know the airport pretty well, so I realized the guy was a bit too low, too fast, and somehow he was not going to hit the runway on time, so he was too low ... he put some gas and tried to go up again," he said.
"But it was too late, so we hit the runway pretty bad, and then we started going up in the air again, and then landed again, pretty hard," Levy said.
He said he opened an emergency door and ushered people out. "We got pretty much everyone in the back section of the plane out," he said. "When we got out there was some smoke. There was no fire then, the fire came afterward."
Ying Kong, of Albany, New York, who was waiting at the airport for her brother-in-law, Fawen Yan, 47, from Richmond, California, said he telephoned her after surviving the crash to say it had been "really smoky and scary."
"He feels it difficult to breathe, but he's okay," she said. She added: "He said a lot of people had to run. He said some people got hurt."