2 Die and Dozens Injured as Plane Crashes on Landing in San Francisco
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 en route from Seoul, Korea to San Francisco crashed at 11:28 a.m. local time while attempting to land at San Francisco International Airport. The plane broke into pieces and caught fire. At least two people were killed and over 180 were injured.
The plane had 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board. According to a statement by Asiana, this included 77 Korean citizens, 141 Chinese citizens, 61 U.S. citizens, and 1 Japanese citizen. In addition, the airline reported that 19 passengers were in business class and 272 were in the main cabin.
From a total of 307 souls on board, 182 were in need of medical attention and transported to local area hospitals. Reportedly, 123 passengers were uninjured and many were able to walk away on their own from the wreckage. There were two fatalities and those were found on the tarmac. San Francisco Fire Chief Joanna Hayes White reported that all passengers and crew members have been accounted for at this time.
Those who were able to remain at the airport were brought to the United Airlines’ United Club lounge, where they were reunited with family members.
Thirty-four passengers were sent to San Francisco General Hospital, according to a statement by Rachel Kagan, a hospital spokesman. Ten were admitted in critical condition and five remain in critical condition at 5 p.m. local time. Kagan added that the types of injuries vary and that not all 34 will be admitted. Some will be treated and released. Passengers came in three waves and the first ten were the most critical.
The cause of the crash of Asiana flight 214 was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said it had dispatched a team to investigate and witnesses reported that the the airplane’s tail hit before it cascaded down the runway. After it stopped, a fire broke out in the fuselage.
David Eun, a passenger on the flight, posted a picture of the downed Asiana jetliner from ground level on Twitter. The image showed passengers walking away from the aircraft. His tweet succinctly stated: “I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok.”
A witness to the crash, Stefanie Turner, posted that the “plane came in at a bad angle, flipped, exploded” on Twitter.
San Francisco International Airport was for several hours closed to all traffic. Flights were being diverted to nearby airports including Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Jose. At 3:30 p.m. local time, two runways had been reported to have been reopened.
The crash was the first time that the popular Boeing 777 was involved in a fatal crash and only the second hull loss. The first was a British Airways 777 in 2008. It crashed short of London-Heathrow’s runway due to engine failure but there were no injuries. The crash was the first in the United States since February 2009. Almost 1,100 777 aircraft are have been delivered since its launch in 1995.
Asiana is South Korea’s second-largest airline both by revenue and passenger traffic. The most recent accident involving an Asiana aircraft was the 2011 crash of a Boeing 747 cargo plane south of the South Korean mainland in which a pilot and co-pilot were killed. A previous fatal accident occurred in 1993, when an Asiana Boeing 737 crashed into a mountain as it approached an airport in Haenam, South Korea. Sixty-six people died and there were 44 injuries.