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Two dead, scores hurt during Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco
An Asiana Airlines flight crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, killing two people, injuring dozens of others and forcing passengers to jump down the emergency inflatable slides to safety as flames tore through the plane.
The two dead were identified as Chinese teenagers. They were among 307 passengers and crew, said airport spokesman Doug Yakel. He said 181 people were taken to local hospitals. There were 291 passengers and 16 crew members.
The Federal Aviation Administration said Flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea, crashed while landing before noon PDT. A video clip posted to YouTube showed smoke coming from a jet on the tarmac. Passengers could be seen jumping down the emergency slides.
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.
It wasn’t immediately clear what happened to the plane as it was landing, but some eyewitnesses said the aircraft seemed to lose control and that the tail may have hit the ground.
Stephanie Turner saw the plane going down and the rescue slides deploy, but returned to her hotel room before seeing any passengers get off the jet, she told ABC News. She said when she first saw the flight she noticed right away that the angle of its approach seemed strange.
“I mean we were sure that we had just seen a lot of people die. It was awful,” she said. “And it looked like the plane had completely broken apart. There were flames and smoke just billowing.”
Kate Belding was out jogging just before 11:30 a.m. on a path across 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.”
“Not like it was cartwheeling,” she said, but rather as though the wings were almost swaying from side to side.
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.
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.
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