(San Francisco, CA) An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, littering the runway with debris and forcing passengers to jump down the emergency inflatable slides to safety.
San Francisco Fire Department told CBS News that two people were killed, and 61 injured, and that the number of injured “will go up.”
Early reports indicate that Asiana Airlines Flight 214 made a hard landing, with the tail of the plane striking the runway and breaking off.
The resulting fire sent black smoke billowing into the air, visible for miles.
CBS Station KPIX reports witnesses heard a loud bang, and saw a huge cloud of smoke.
“The plane started coming in at an odd angle, there was a huge bang and you could see the cloud of huge black smoke,” Kate Belding, who was jogging near the airport at the time of the crash, told CBS Station KPIX.
“It was a horrible thud,” said Kelly Thompson, who observed the crash a hotel parking lot at the airport. She said the plane bounced, then slid on the runway.
Rescue vehicles were on the scene immediately afterwards, with fire trucks spraying a white fire retardant on the wreckage.
The airport has been closed at the request of the city, according to FAA spokesperson Laura Brown. No flights were being allowed in or out of SFO at this time, although a runway may reopen soon, said Brown.
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 oneWorld alliance, anchored by American Airlines and British Airways.
David Eun, a Samsung executive who was on board the plane, posted a photo online showing passengers leaving the wreckage.
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.
The last time a large U.S. airline lost a plane in a fatal crash was an American Airlines Airbus A300 taking off from JFK in 2001.
Smaller airlines have had crashes since then. The last fatal U.S. crash was a Continental Express flight operated by Colgan Air, which crashed into a house near Buffalo, N.Y. on Feb. 12, 2009. The crash killed all 49 people on board and one man in a house.
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