NATIONAL

Two killed in Asiana jet crash at San Francisco airport

By 박한나

Exact cause of accident remains unknown; no indication of any link to terrorism

  • Published : Jul 7, 2013 - 06:38
  • Updated : Jul 7, 2013 - 15:36

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 is seen on the runway at San Francisco International Airport after crash landing on Saturday. (AFP-Yonhp News)

An Asiana Airlines passenger jet carrying 307 people crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport Saturday, killing two Chinese people and injuring dozens of others on board, officials said.

The Boeing 777 plane, which departed from Shanghai, China and stopped over at Incheon International Airport west of Seoul, was carrying 291 passengers and 16 crew members, according to the airliner, which is South Korea's second largest.

"Everyone has been accounted for," San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told reporters.

Seventy-seven South Koreans, 141 Chinese and 61 Americans were on board with the nationality of the remainder not confirmed yet.

Both of the two killed in the crash were carrying Chinese passports, officials said. 

The crash of Asiana flight 214 occurred at around 11:40 a.m.

local time, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Local fire officials said in addition to the two deaths, dozens of others were injured and sent to nearby hospitals. Reportedly, at least five of them are critically injured.

"We were called to the scene as well as units from San Francisco for what we, what had been categorized as a hard landing so our crews responded post the landing and our aircraft rescue firefighting equipment went to work right away applying foam and water to the fuselage," San Francisco fire department chief Joanne Hayes-White said at a press conference.

"When we had arrived on scene the chutes had already been deployed, and we observed multiple numbers of people coming down the chutes and walking to their safety, which was a good thing,"

she added.

The exact cause of the accident was not known immediately either. Skies over the airport were relatively clear at the time of the accident.

 The law-enforcement authorities said there is no indication of any link to terrorism.

"At this point in time there is no indication of terrorism involved. The FBI will be working closely with the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) to determine the cause of this incident," FBI special agent David Johnson said.

Some experts say that technical glitches in the jet, produced in 2006, might have caused the crash.

The NTSB dispatched a team of investigators to the airport to find out what triggered the crash.

Boeing, the manufacturer of the 777-model jet, and South Korean aviation safety officials are also expected to help the probe.

Television footage showed considerable damage to the plane's fuselage, wings and tail section. One engine may have detached from the plane following the crash. Also posted on YouTube were some videos showing a plume of smoke from the crashed plane.

President Barack Obama received a report on the accident shortly after it happened, according to the White House.

He ordered his staff to stay "in constant contact" with the federal, state and local partners in response to the crash, it added.

The B777-200ER is a twin-engine, long-range jet, popular with many airlines around the world. Asiana reported 12 of the jets in its fleet.

South Korea's foreign ministry also said that it has set up a task force to check the crash with the consul general in San Francisco ordered to make contact with crash investigators.

Diplomats have been sent to hospitals known to have taken in injured passengers and trying to determine the extent of injuries sustained.

Saturday's accident involving Asiana marks the second time in the company's history that one of its passenger jets was involved in a major accident. The last accident occurred in 1993 when a B737-500 crashed while trying to land at Mokpo airport, 410 kilometers south of Seoul. Two crew members and 66 passengers of the 110 on board were killed. (Yonhap News)

 

Passengers fleeing from the Asiana jetliner which crash landed at San Francisco (David Eun Twitter via Yonhap News)