July 8, 2013

Slow landing speed of San Francisco jet probed

Officials say the probe is also focusing on whether the airport or plane's equipment also could have malfunctioned.

By Jason Dearen and Joan Lowy / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

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Investigators work amid the wreckage of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 in San Francisco as they try to determine the cause of Saturday’s accident. Two people died in the crash and officials say it appears the plane was flying too slow when it struck a sea wall just in front of the runway.

The Associated Press/NTSB

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ASIANA AIRLINES ACCIDENT SUMMARY

WHAT HAPPENED: The Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashed while landing after a likely 10-hour-plus flight from Seoul. The flight originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul before the long trek to San Francisco.

FULL FLIGHT: There were 307 people aboard. Two people aboard the plane died. Of the 182 injured people taken to hospitals, 19 remained hospitalized Sunday, six of them 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. Thirty of the passengers were children.

PASSENGERS: South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said 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. Chinese state media identified the dead as two 16-year-old girls who were  students in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

At one point, the pilot of a United Airlines plane radioed.

"We see people ... that need immediate attention," the pilot said. "They are alive and walking around."

"Think you said people are just walking outside the airplane right now?" the controller replied.

"Yes," answered the pilot of United Flight 885. "Some people, it looks like, are struggling."

When the plane hit the ground, oxygen masks dropped down, said Xu Da, a product manager at an Internet company in Hangzhou, China, who was sitting with his wife and teenage son near the back of the plane. He stood up and saw sparking — perhaps from exposed electrical wires — and a gaping hole through the back of the plane where its galley was torn away along with the tail.

Xu and his family escaped through the opening. Once on the tarmac, they watched the plane catch fire, and firefighters hose it down.

In the chaotic moments after the landing, when baggage was tumbling from the overhead bins onto passengers and people all around her were screaming, Wen Zhang grabbed her 4-year-old son, who hit the seat in front of him and broke his leg.

Spotting a hole at the back of the jumbo jet where the bathroom had been, she carried her boy to safety.

"I had no time to be scared," she said.

Nearby, people who escaped were dousing themselves with water from the bay, possibly to cool burn injuries, authorities said.

By the time the flames were out, much of the top of the fuselage had burned away. The tail section was gone, with pieces of it scattered across the beginning of the runway. One engine was gone, and the other was no longer on the wing.

 

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