An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash-landed at the San Francisco International Airport Saturday shortly before noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT). The ill-fated Flight OZ 214 was carrying 307 people from Seoul, 291 passengers and 16 crew members. Two of those aboard the plane were killed, 49 were seriously hurt, 132 were less seriously injured, and one is missing, airport representative Doug Yakel said at an evening press conference, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to witnesses, who immediately began posting comments and photographs on social-media sites, the aircraft hit its tail on landing and caught fire. Passengers started leaving the plane from both sides unassisted. Photographs show emergency slides were deployed for the evacuation.
The weather at the time was very clear. Sources close to the investigation cited by NBC News said crew members made no distress call before landing. Investigators believe the most likely cause of the crash was that the plane came in too low on its approach and that the pilot, in an attempt to gain height, hit the aircraft’s tail against the seawall at the end of the runway. The plane then crash-landed on the runway itself and veered off it, subsequently catching fire.
The tail of the aircraft was separated from the plane. The debris field from the crash began at the seawall at the beginning of the runway 28-Left, according to televised images. Both wings remained attached, although one engine fell off.
Passenger David Eun, a vice president at South Korean electronics maker Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005930), posted a photo on Twitter as he was leaving the aircraft under his own power:
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— David Eun (@Eunner) July 6, 2013
we were walking back from breakfast, stopped to take a picture of the runway, and a landing plane came in at a bad angle, flipped, exploded
— stefanielaine (@stefanielaine) July 6, 2013
The airport was closed temporarily at the request of the city, according to Federal Aviation Administration representative Laura Brown. However, two of its four runways were back in service by 7:25 p.m. PDT (10:25 p.m. EDT).
Asiana had 12 Boeing 777-200ER aircraft as of Saturday morning, plus one on order. The airplane that crashed, bearing the South Korean registration HL7742, was the 553th Boeing 777 produced, and it made its first flight in February 2006, according to data from Airfleets.net.
This is the second crash of a Boeing 777, after British Airways Flight 38 at London Heathrow Airport in 2008, which caused no fatalities.
The crash is the first major commercial jet crash in the U.S. since an American Airlines Airbus A300 went down in New York in November 2001. The last fatal accident was Colgan Air Flight 3407 in February 2009, which killed 50 when it crashed near Buffalo, N.Y.
Below is the path followed by Asiana Flight 214 across the Pacific Ocean before it crashed.