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Passenger describes jetliner crash in San Francisco

July 06, 2013|By Harriet Ryan

Passenger Elliott Stone, who was returning from a martial arts tournament in South Korea, told CNN that he was sitting in the middle of the Asiana jetliner when it crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport.

“All of a sudden the engine is just off,” he said. He said that after a jolt, the plane seemed to tip over and then burst into flames.

“Everyone was pushing, rushing out,” he said.

While fire officials said emergency chutes deployed, Stone told CNN, “there wasn’t any slides or anything. We just jumped out.”

He said those in the center of the plane were in good condition, but those in the back, where the flight attendants were seated, had more serious injuries.

“There were five that we saw that were just terrible,” he said.

He said passengers huddled in groups waiting for help for what seemed an eternity.

“The ambulance took 20, 30 minutes,” he said. “It was pretty ridiculous.”

The Boeing 777 passenger jet with 307 people on board crashed on landing shortly before noon Saturday, killing at least two on board and injuring dozens of others.

Officials said 60 passengers were still unaccounted for but said they were not presumed dead. Rather, officials said they were still trying to assess where all passengers and crew members were taken.

The jetliner caught fire when it hit the tarmac, causing a huge plume of black smoke to billow into the sky.

Many passengers were able to get out of the plane before it was consumed by flames.

In a brief phone interview, a passenger who didn’t want to give his name told The Times that many passengers were able to get out unharmed. “Most of the people seem OK and we’re just letting the paramedics do their job,” he said.

Federal investigators were trying to determine what went wrong. But a source involved in the investigation said the plane appeared to have clipped a sea wall while landing. Mechanical difficulties have not been ruled out, but investigators are focused on whether Asiana Flight 214 came in too low, according to sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The plane appeared to hit the sea wall dividing the airport runway from San Francisco Bay, possibly causing the tail to come apart.

Multiple sources told The Times that there was no reported trouble or declared emergency on the plane before it

The last major incident at San Francisco International Airport occurred in 2008, when a United Airlines Boeing 757 jet without any passengers was backing out of a gate and collided with a SkyWest plane carrying 60 passengers and crew, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. No passengers were injured.

The last major crash in the United States occurred in 2009, when Continental Connection Flight 3407 went down about six miles short of Buffalo Niagara International Airport. All 48 people on board were killed.

ALSO:

Many questions unanswered in Asiana crash at SFO

At least 2 dead, 60 unaccounted for in San Francisco plane crash

Asiana crash: Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg was to have been on jet

harriet.ryan@latimes.com 

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