A look at Saturday’s crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 at the San Francisco International Airport:
— WHAT HAPPENED: The Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashed while landing after a likely 10-hour-plus flight from Seoul, South Korea. The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul before the long trek to San Francisco.
— PACKED FLIGHT: There were 307 people aboard — 291 passengers and 16 crew members. Two people aboard the plane died, but the rest were accounted for late Saturday. Of the 182 injured people taken to hospitals, at least 49 were in critical condition. The remaining 133 had minor to moderate injuries, while many of the other passengers or crew members had more minor injuries that didn’t require extra treatment.
— PASSENGERS: South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that the plane’s passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans, three Canadians, three from India, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one from France, while the nationalities of the remaining three haven’t been confirmed. Thirty of the passengers were children.
— WHAT WENT WRONG? The cause isn’t clear, but based on witness accounts and video of the wreckage, one aviation safety expert suggested the plane may have approached the runway too low and a part of the plane may have caught the seawall at the end of the runway. Some eyewitnesses said the aircraft seemed to lose control and that the tail may have hit the ground. The NTSB was sending a team to the site to probe the crash.
— WHAT’S NEXT? Updated conditions of the injured are expected Sunday, and NTSB investigators face their first full day of investigating the cause.
Air crash in San Francisco causes confusion, frayed nerves
Bystanders watching an Asiana Boeing 777 flight make a seemingly routine approach to a San Francisco runway were stunned to see it come in fast and hit the ground hard on Saturday, while on board, passengers’ survival instincts took over.
The crash at San Francisco International Airport left two people dead, while more than 180 people were transported to area hospitals, including many with serious injuries.
Vedpal Singh, a native of India, was on board the flight along with his wife and son when the aircraft struck the landing strip hard.
“Your instincts take over. You don’t know what’s going on,” said Singh, who had his arm in a sling as he walked through the airport’s international terminal and told reporters he had suffered a fractured collar bone.
“I’m very, very thankful to God,” he said.
Singh lives in South Korea and had taken the flight for a vacation to California. He said that his son was fine but he had not yet been reunited with his wife.
Elliott Stone, a passenger on board the plane, told CNN that he thought the aircraft approached the airport “a little high” and made a sharp descent.
“All of a sudden, boom, the back end just hit and flies up into the air and everyone’s head goes up the ceiling,” Stone told CNN.
Greg Claxton, 39, of Sarasota, Florida, was among those who witnessed the crash from a shuttle bus traveling from his hotel to the airport.
“I saw a plane coming in really fast, really hard,” Claxton said. “It appeared to land, spin and then fire. I instantly was praying for those people on board.”
Claxton added that he ran off the shuttle. Others on board were crying at the sight of the crash.
After the crash, some reflected on how the disaster could have been worse. “It is incredible and very lucky that we have so many survivors,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told reporters.
Passengers who remained at the airport and family members who rushed to join them dealt with their frayed nerves. Some collected themselves at the airport’s “Reflection Room,” where workers from the Salvation Army were on hand to offer comfort to those involved in the crash.
“They are in shock, they’re telling their stories,” said Salvation Army Major Wayne Frodenberg, a disaster services coordinator for the organization. “It’s quiet, people are sort of decompressing.”
The Salvation Army was providing shoes to some passengers who lost their footwear in the crash, he said.
Most on board the Asiana Airlines flight 214 that crashed were Chinese, South Korean or American, and the two dead were reported to be Chinese citizens.
Among the scores of passengers injured in the crash and taken to hospitals, some suffered serious wounds such as internal bleeding and spinal fractures, said Dr. David Spain, chief of trauma medicine at Stanford Hospital, where about 45 patients from the crash went to its emergency room.