Officials Confirm Fatalities In San Francisco Plane Accident

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Guest host Rebecca Sheir speaks with NPR's Richard Gonzales in San Francisco for an update on the latest numbers from city officials. Asiana Airlines' Boeing 777 crashed Saturday afternoon while landing at the international airport.


It's Weekends on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Sheir. We go to the latest now out of San Francisco. An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea crashed there earlier today. Two people are confirmed dead, several are injured. NPR's Richard Gonzales joins us now from San Francisco with the latest. Now, Richard, let's start with casualties. What do we know at this point?

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Well, Rebecca, we know that there are many casualties. As you just said, there are two confirmed fatalities. There were 291 passengers on this flight and 16 crew, for a total of 307 people on the flight. One hundred and ninety people have been transferred to a safe zone here at the airport, but 48 were taken to local hospitals in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. San Francisco General Hospital reports that 10 of those people are considered critical. There are eight adults and two children. Most interestingly, officials here say there are 60 passengers who are still unaccounted for.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee says this - the whole situation was very fluid, and it is an active investigation scene. Why this has happened, we don't know whether it was a pilot error or equipment failure. But FBI special agent David Johnson says there's no indication of terrorism. And the FBI is working together with the National Transportation Safety Board to figure out what happened.

SHEIR: What happened when the plane touched down exactly?

GONZALES: Well, apparently, a witness was saying - there were many witnesses - that the plane's approach - we're talking about Asiana flight number 214; it was a Boeing 777 - the plane came in at a very awkward angle. People say it just didn't look right. And apparently, it came up short and it hit a seawall near the runway. The tail section landed first and basically disintegrated. The plane then just bounced down the runway. One of the miraculous things is that we know that many of the passengers were able to get off using the emergency evacuation chutes and were able to walk away from the crash.

SHEIR: Now, Richard, what else do we know about the response to the crash?

GONZALES: Well, we know that, you know, the first call came in at around 11:34. The San Francisco Fire Department was informed that there was a hard landing at the San Francisco International Airport. Emergency responders were there immediately. The plane was surrounded almost immediately. There was black smoke, white smoke and then black smoke. There was a medevac chopper brought in to take away some of the casualties. But right now, the FBI and NTSB has taken over the investigation, and they are trying to determine what has happened here, and we expect more news from them in the next hour.

SHEIR: That's NPR's Richard Gonzales. A Boeing 777 Asiana Airlines flight has crashed on landing at San Francisco International Airport. For the very latest on this story throughout the night, go to npr.org.

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