A US television channel has apologised after reporting fake and racially insensitive names of the pilots aboard the Boeing 777 that crash landed at San Francisco airport.
Tori Campbell, a presenter on KTVU, a San Francisco Bay Area station, read the fake names on air on Friday. Her report was accompanied with a graphic listing the fake names.
“KTVU has just learned the names of the four pilots who were on board the flight,” Ms Campbell said. “They are Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. And the NTSB has confirmed these are the names of the pilots on board flight 214 when it crashed. We are working to determine exactly what roles each of them played during the landing on Saturday.”
The report was read out despite the names of both pilots being confirmed earlier this week as Lee Jeong-min and Lee Gangguk, both from South Korea.
Further fuelling the embarrassment, it also came as authorities confirmed that a third Chinese girl who was aboard the flight that originated in Shanghai, died.
After a commercial break, the anchor apologised for the error, claiming that an official at the National Transportation Safety Board had confirmed the names to the station.
KTVU followed up the broadcast with a statement on its website claiming they had not phonetically sounded out the names.
The NTSB also apologised for the “inaccurate and offensive” error, blaming it on a summer intern who “acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft.”
Neither organisation commented on where the hoax names originated from.
Confirmation that a third passenger died came as authorities confirmed 16-year-old Ye Men Yuan, one of the two Chinese teenagers who died on the day of the disaster, was hit by a fire engine on its way to extinguishing the Boeing 777, raising the possibility that she could have survived only to die in the chaotic aftermath.
Her close friend Wang Linjia, also 16, was among a group of passengers who did not get immediate medical assistance, with rescuers not spotting her until 14 minutes after the crash.
The third girl died on Friday morning. She had been in critical condition since the accident.
“It is a very, very sad day today,” said Dr Geoffrey Manley, San Francisco General’s chief of neurosurgery. “We have done everything we could.”
As well as those killed, more than 180 were injured, 49 of them seriously, when the flight came in too low, hit a sea wall, and crash landed before catching fire.
Nearly a week after the crash, the investigation indicates the pilots, a trainee and his instructor, failed to realise until too late that the aircraft was dangerously low and flying too slow.
Nothing so far indicates any problems with the plane’s engines, computers or automated systems.