Washington, July 7: Three Indian nationals were among the 305 survivors of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from South Korea that crashed while landing at San Francisco airport, killing two Chinese girls and leaving 49 seriously injured.
But the rest of the 291 passengers and 16 crew members escaped either unscathed or with lesser injuries as the plane crashlanded at 11:27 a.m. Saturday after an 11-hour flight from Seoul, officials said.
The Flight 214 was making a seemingly routine approach to San Francisco International Airport on a calm, clear Saturday morning, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Suddenly, the Boeing 777 slammed hard into the ground just short of the runway, bounced in the air and then pancaked, skidding and shedding parts as the terrified passengers hung on for their lives,” it said.
“A massive fireball and clouds of smoke shot skyward. First responders rushed to the scene as horrified onlookers at the airport terminal feared the worst,” according to a CNN account.
Medics found the bodies of two Chinese girls on the runway, next to the burning wreckage. The airline identified the girls as students Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan, both 16.
In a twitter message, Indian ambassador to Seoul Vishnu Prakash said: “ASIANA mishap at SFO: 3 Indians on board too. 1 suffered collar bone fracture & other minor injuries. Wish ASIANA gives out complete info.”
In a later update, he wrote, “One boy received superficial injuries. The 3rd is fine” and thanked Asiana “for the update # Indians injured”.
The crash ended an otherwise mundane flight that originated in Shanghai, China. It made a connection in Seoul, South Korea, before flying 10 hours to San Francisco, according to CNN.
Among the 291 passengers were 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans and one Japanese, Asiana Airlines said.
Once the plane fell short of the runway, passengers found themselves on a roller coaster.
“I thought as the plane was landing, it looked like the pilot was trying to take off again,” passenger Noni Singh was quoted as saying by CNN.
South Korean investigators will work alongside officials from the US National Transportation Safety Board.
The flight recorders from the plane have been recovered and are on the way to Washington, the NTSB said Sunday.
Soon after the plane crash in San Francisco, California, President Barack Obama “was made aware of the incident by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism,” according to a White House statement.
“The president will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. The president expressed his gratitude for the first responders and directed his team to stay in constant contact with the federal, state and local partners as they investigate and respond to this event.”
“His thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash,” the statement added.