An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul crashed on landing at San Francisco’s airport Saturday, killing two passengers, injuring more than 180 and forcing dozens of frightened passengers and crew to scamper from the heavily damaged aircraft before it was engulfed in smoke and flames.
There were 307 people on board Boeing 777, including 16 crew members. According to the officials, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed just before noon local time.
The Boeing 777 appeared to have touched down tail-first and short of the runway. Witnesses said they saw puffs of smoke, apparently from the main wheels or tail hitting the ground, before the plane was engulfed in flames; some parts of the jet were later found in the San Francisco Bay, which circles the beginning of the runway, reports the USA Today.
A sheered off tail section rested several hundred feet from the main body of the aircraft, and debris from the plane littered the runway. Passengers were seen jumping down emergency inflatable slides to the tarmac.
The airline said mechanical problems did not cause the crash.
“Currently we understand that there were no engine or mechanical problems,” Asiana chief executive Yoon Young-Doo told a news conference in Seoul.
CBS News aviation and safety analyst Capt. Chesley Sullenberger said it was possible that ongoing construction at San Francisco International Airport will be examined as a factor in the Asiana Airlines crash that killed at least two people.
“It’s too early to say if (the construction) is going to be a factor in this case, but it certainly is something they’d be looking at,” Sullenberger said.
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and South Korea’s transport ministry were sending teams to the site for a full investigation.
The passengers included 141 Chinese nationals, 77 Korean nationals and 61 U.S. citizens, among others. Asiana said the flight originated from Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, stopped in Seoul and then carried on to San Francisco.
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said that the two people who died in the crash were found outside the plane, but she could not say whether they were thrown from the aircraft or had been taken from the cabin after being discovered.
Eight adults and two children who suffered critical injuries are being treated at San Francisco General Hospital, hospital spokesperson Rachael Kagan said.
Rescue teams initially took 49 people deemed to be in a serious condition to nearby hospitals, officials said.
However, for some the appeared to fortunate. Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg was supposed to be on the flight that made a crash landing Saturday in San Francisco.
Sandberg reassured her followers on the social network that she was OK, and had changed her reservation at the last minute.
Boeing Co. said in a statement that it “extends its concern for the safety of those on board Asiana Airlines Flight 214,” and it is “preparing to provide technical assistance” to the NTSB for its probe.
Arrivals and departures at the airport have been suspended since the incident.