There were screams and shock as passengers tried to flee the Asiana Airways Jet after it crash-landed Saturday at the San Francisco International Airport. Reports say confusion and smoke filled the cabin after the aircraft slid to a halt.
“It was surreal,” passenger Benjamin Levy told reporters Saturday, describing the harrowing experience on Asiana flight 214 after being transported by ambulance from San Francisco International Airport.
Speaking of his experience inside the plane moments after the crash Levy said, “A lot of people screaming and not really believing what was happening to them. I wasn’t believing it either.” He said once the plane came to a halt, “I kind of stood up and went and opened the door, a piece of the wing was gone. So there was a lot of debris. But I realized we were on the ground.”
According to Levy there was chaos in the cabin as people pushed each other out of the plane. Passengers slid out of the inflatable emergency chutes. One passenger said smoke filled the cabin and it was hard to breathe.
Levy said he helped passengers out of the plane before he himself was pushed out.
Reports say most of the passengers had exited the plane within a matter of minutes. According to reports, firefighters found people in the shallow waters of the bay near the tarmac. They were dousing themselves after exiting the fire-consumed plane.
Scores of other dazed passengers also spoke of their traumatic experience and their unbelievable escape from the smoldering jet.
New York passenger David Eun, shortly after escaping the burning jet, tweeted, “I just crash-landed at SFO,” “Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok. Surreal.”
Elliott Stone, another passenger on the flight, told reporters he could see the tarmac below him. He said the back of the plane, where several flight attendants were seated, broke off.
Many people who saw the plane crash from inside the airport and other areas described their accounts to reporters.
Eyewitness Kristina Stapchuck said she was on another plane when she saw the crash from a window seat. She described the plane rocking back and forth and the tail clipping off.
According to reports, she said she saw other parts of the aircraft falling off and spreading everywhere on the runway. It seemed like the plane was sliding on its belly all the way down the runway, she stated.
Eyewitness Dan Glickman told reporters that everything seemed to be normal at first. The plane was approaching in a routine flight pattern. But then the wheels seemed too low too soon.
He told reporters that the aircraft “just pancaked immediately. It collapsed and then it slid.”
Another eyewitness, Danielle Wells, tweeted he cannot stop crying and cannot believe this.
Something went terribly wrong on Flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco. The aircraft clipped its tail and most of its roof during it horrible skid on the tarmac. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
According to official reports there were 307 people on board including 61 Americans. Of the 307 people, 291 were passengers and 16 were crew members. Authorities said 182 people were hospitalized. There were 49 passengers with serious injuries. According hospital reports, the injuries include burns, fractures and cuts. Two passengers were killed. The bodies of the two dead were found on the runway. South Korea’s transport ministry said those who died were Chinese citizens.
By Perviz Walji