Passengers: We knew we were too low

2013-07-07 23:30

Asiana Airlines plane crashes in San Francisco

2013-07-07 22:23

An Asiana Airlines plane, Boeing 777, has crashed at San Francisco International Airport, killing at least two people and injuring as many as 40 according to witnesses. Firefighters and rescue teams were at the scene of the downed Asiana Airlines Flight 214, which had taken off from South Korea's capital, Seoul. The cause of the crash is unclear. Early indications suggest the plane came in too short and hit the seawall at the airport. WATCH

San Francisco - Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 was just over seven years old with no reported technical issues and its pilots had thousands of hours of flying under their belts – yet seconds before crash landing at San Francisco International airport on Saturday, passengers knew something was horribly wrong.

According to eye-witnesses the plane was flying dangerously low on approach.

CNN International reports passenger Benjamin Levy looked out the window from his seat, where he could see the water of the San Francisco Bay about 10 feet below, describing the descent as alarming.

San Francisco is one of several airports around the country that border bodies of water that have walls at the end of their runways to prevent planes that overrun a runway from ending up in the water.

Levy could not recall seeing any runway, only water.

Further back in the Boeing 777, Xu Das had the same realization.

"Looking through window, it looked on level of the (sea)wall along the runway," he posted on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

Passengers confirmed there was no warning from the cockpit before the plane slammed onto the edge of the runway. The impact is believed to have snapped off the plane's tail before it went spinning on its belly.

The bodies of two Chinese girls were found on the runway, next to the burning wreckage. The airline identified the girls as students Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan, both 16.

Miraculously, 305 others on the plane survived the crash on Saturday morning. At total of 70 Chinese students and teachers were headed to summer camp in the United States, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.


"We're lucky there hasn't been a greater loss of life," San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.

Among the 291 passengers were 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans and one Japanese, Asiana Airlines said. The airline is one of two major airlines in South Korea; the other is Korean Air.

At the helm of the plane was one of Asiana's veteran pilots who had been flying for 17 years, the airline said Sunday. Three other pilots were also on board, working in shifts.

"I thought as the plane was landing, it looked like the pilot was trying to take off again," passenger Noni Singh said, describing how the airplane dipped sharply.

"And then just boom, the back end just hit and flies up in the air, " Elliott Stone, another passenger, said, "and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling."

Exactly what caused the crash could take up to two years to determine, said Choi Jeong-ho, head of South Korea's Aviation Policy Bureau.

South Korean investigators will work alongside officials from the US National Transportation Safety Board.
Read more on:    asiana airlines  |  boeing  |  us  |  air crashes  |  travel international  |  aviation  |  flights  |  air travel

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