Sunday 18 February 2018

Two dead as passengers thrown from jet in crash

The wreckage of the plane crash in San Francisco, which claimed the lives of two Chinese schoolgirls
The wreckage of the plane crash in San Francisco, which claimed the lives of two Chinese schoolgirls

Nick Allen Los Angeles and Tom Phillips Shanghai

Survivors of a plane crash in San Francisco have described a scene of terror as passengers and crew were hurled out of the back of the airliner, leaving bodies strewn on the runway, while the jet "belly flopped" and burst into flames.

Two Chinese schoolgirls died and 182 people were injured, 49 of them seriously, as Asiana Airlines Flight 214 appeared to come in too low over water and clipped a sea wall, ripping off its rear end and landing gear.

While many escaped the plane using the emergency exit slides, some could be seen in the water just off the runway.

Yoon Young-doo, the president of South Korea's second biggest airline, said there were "no problems caused by the plane or engines" and the aircraft was only seven years old.

The plane had come from Shanghai, via Seoul, before an 11-hour trip to San Francisco. There were 16 crew and 291 passengers, mostly Chinese, South Korean and American.

Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, both 16 and from Zhejiang province, died. They were among 70 students and teachers heading to US summer camps.

Elliott Stone, an American passenger, said: "All of a sudden, the engine sped up like he (the pilot) knew he was short. Then the back end hit. People fell out. It was the most terrible thing I've ever seen."

He said he saw people strewn 500 yards down the runway from the plane.

It has emerged that a navigation system that helps pilots make safe descents had been turned off at San Francisco airport for weeks. Aviation experts said it was not unusual to take such systems offline for maintenance, but pilots had grown to rely on the technology.

Without the "glide path" system, automatic warnings would not have gone off if the pilot's approach angle was wrong. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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