Plane Crashes While Landing At San Francisco Airport

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The Asiana Airlines plane, a Boeing 777, was flying into San Francisco from Seoul, South Korea.


It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Sheir.

We begin this hour with the latest on the Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, which crash landed at San Francisco International Airport earlier today.

NPR's Richard Gonzales joins us now from San Francisco with the latest. Richard, let's start with what we've heard about casualties. What's being reported?

RICHARD GONZALES, BYLINE: Well, Rebecca, at this stage, there's no official word about casualties. We're waiting a news conference that's supposed to happen very soon, and we're going to hear the official word from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, but he's not yet arrived.

Here's what we do know: that at least 75 people were injured; 10 are critical at San Francisco General Hospital. Of those 10, eight are adults and two are children. Another five passengers are reported to be en route to San Francisco General. These are very preliminary reports. More details will emerge as we learn more. And as I mentioned, a news conference with more details is expected to happen any moment now.

SHEIR: So, Richard, what happened here? What do we know about how this plane crashed while it was landing in San Francisco?

GONZALES: Here's what we know. Asiana flight 214 arriving from Seoul, South Korea - it was a Boeing 777 - approached the runway here in San Francisco. According to witnesses - and there were many witnesses - they say that the plane's approach just did not look right. The plane came in at an awkward angle. And apparently, it just came up short, and it wound up hitting a seawall right next to the runway here in San Francisco. The tail section landed first on impact and basically just disintegrated. And then the plane, according to witnesses, basically bounced down the runway.

It was pretty dramatic event for people who saw that. Again, there were 291 people on that plane. And according to these preliminary reports, most of them walked away from it.

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

GONZALES: Well, immediately, there were emergency response vehicles surrounding the vehicle. There was a great deal of smoke - first black smoke, people say, and white smoke and then black smoke again. There are conflicting reports about whether there was an actual fire. But all of the emergency crew were on the scene immediately. A Medevac chopper was brought in to take some people to local Bay Area hospitals. The hospitals are spread out over three counties.

As I say, many passengers were able to get off the plane using the emergency evacuation chutes and were able to walk away from the crash. (Unintelligible) flights into San Francisco International are delayed or canceled. Flights that were destined for San Francisco are now being diverted to Oakland...

SHEIR: Now, Richard, as with most news events these days, the social media world has been very active on the story. And, of course, we approach these reports with caution. But what have you seen out there in the Twittersphere, on Facebook?

GONZALES: You know, it's (unintelligible) people who are on the flight were able to take pictures and tweet them and send out some of the video almost immediately. We have reports about one (unintelligible) executive of Samsung. He apparently got off the flight, was walking away, turned around and took a picture, saying, you know, I've just - I got - my plane just crashed. And you could see that the - his pictures being printed everywhere.

There was another local man who reported that his wife sent him a video of the aftermath. At that time, he reported that most people appeared to have survived the crash. That appears to be the case. But again, I repeat these are very preliminary reports.

SHEIR: That's NPR's Richard Gonzales. Boeing 777 has crashed on landing at San Francisco International Airport. Reports are still preliminary, but area hospitals say as many as 75 people are injured; some in critical condition. We will provide updates as we get them.

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