Boeing 777 plane crash-lands at San Francisco airport

Jul 07 2013

A Boeing 777 aircraft has crash-landed at San Francisco international airport, killing two people and injuring dozens more, officials say.

More than 300 people were on Asiana Airlines Flight 214, from South Korea's capital, Seoul. Passengers and crew escaped down emergency slides as the plane burst into flames.

Asiana has confirmed two female Chinese teenagers have died in the crash.

The airline said mechanical problems did not cause the crash.

The two Chinese teens who died had been seated at the back of the aircraft, Asiana said in a statement.

Pictures posted on Twitter showed passengers jumping down the inflatable emergency slides and leaving the area, as plumes of smoke rose from the plane.

"Currently we understand that there were no engine or mechanical problems," Asiana chief executive Yoon Young-Doo told a news conference in Seoul.

Early indications suggest the plane came in too short and hit the seawall at the airport.

Eight adults and two children who suffered critical injuries are being treated at San Francisco General Hospital, hospital spokesperson Rachael Kagan said.

Altogether 181 people were taken to hospital, mostly with minor injuries.

There were 291 passengers and 16 crew on board, Asiana said.

Nationalities on board included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans and 61 US citizens, the airline said.

Rescue teams initially took 49 people deemed to be in a serious condition to nearby hospitals, officials said.

Some 190 people walked to safety from the plane, many of whom were later treated for minor injuries.

All of the passengers have now been accounted for.

While the sequence of events remains unclear, it appeared the plane landed and then crashed on San Francisco International Airport's Runway 28L, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown.

Footage of the scene showed debris strewn on the runway and smoke pouring from the jet, as fire crews sprayed a white fire retardant into gaping holes in the craft's roof.

One engine and the tail fin appeared to have broken away from the main wreckage.

'Out of control'

Passenger David Euntweeted a picture of people jumping out of the plane's emergency inflatable slidesand wrote: "I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm ok. Surreal..."

Mr Eun, who describes himself as a "digital media guy" and "frequent flier", added: "Fire and rescue people all over the place. They're evacuating the injured. Haven't felt this way since 9/11."

A witness to the crash, Ki Siadatan, said the plane "looked out of control" as it descended over San Francisco Bay to land just before 11:30 (18:30 GMT).

"We heard a 'boom' and saw the plane disappear into a cloud of dust and smoke," he told the BBC. "There was then a second explosion."

He saw events unfold from the balcony of his home in the Millbrae area of San Francisco, which overlooks the airport.

Weather conditions were fine and there was little wind, he added.

Arrivals and departures at the airport have been suspended since the incident.

The twin-engine Boeing 777 has a good safety record as a long-haul aircraft and is used by many major carriers.

Asiana is South Korea's second-largest airline.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News 2013 BBC

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