Jul 07, 2013

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The injuries are staggering: almost 200 people have been injured and two people have lost their lives in a horrific, unexplained plane crash. A Boeing 777 jet owned by Asiana Airlines was landing in San Francisco after a long journey from Seoul, South Korea when, according to police scanners at the time, “the whole tail fell off”.

The plane was supposed to arrive at the airport at 11:15 local time, but was delayed for about 15 minutes, and according to eyewitnesses, seemed to be landing at an “odd angle”:

The plane “started violently shaking” after it hit the runway at San Francisco airport, and then “rolled over,” a witness told local channel KTVU.
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After a third alarm fire broke out, almost all eyewitnesses could see was black and grey smoke billowing from the aircraft.
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Emergency services have reported that 290 passengers, 12 crew members and one infant were all on board the plane at the time of the accident.

p-2A survivor of the crash has since told Business Insider:
“It approached the runway and the moment it touched it, there was a loud bang and we knew that something had gone wrong,” Singh told reporters.
The fire started as passengers were evacuating via the plane’s emergency shoot, Singh said.
Another passenger, Eugene Anthony Rah, told the Wall Street Journal that everyone was screaming as the aircraft slammed in to the runway, followed by complete silence when the jet came to a stop. “I was 99.9% sure I was going to die,” Rah said.
Of course, a “go-to” team from the NTSB is on already on-site, investigating.

Here is the transcript of the air traffic control feed:

Flight 214 cleared into land 28L at 18:21:12 Zulu
18:22:27: Flight 214 calls ATC
18:22:30: Tower says, “214 Heavy, Emergency Vehicles are responding”
18:22:37: Flight 214 calls again. Can’t make out what is said.
18:23:10: Flight 214 calls again. Can’t make out what is said.
18:23:25: ATC says, “Emergency vehicles are responding. We have everyone on their way.”
18:27:02: Another plane calls ATC, “We see people (at our vicinity) that need immediate attention. They are alive and they are walking around.”

Interestingly enough, the jet had no known technical/mechanical problems as well as very experienced pilots, although the black boxes have been recovered and may reveal more about why the tail clipped the runway in the first place.

The two victims who died have been identified as two Chinese teenage girls who were on their way to camp. Some of the survivors are interesting, though:

Information is sparse, and much of what we currently know about the situation is coming from the Twitter account of one of the passengers, David Eun….
Eun is a familiar face to many people in the tech industry.
He’s currently working for Samsung, developing its mobile ad business.
Before that, Eun worked at AOL. His name is on the infamous “AOL Way” PowerPoint that came out a few years ago.
Before joining AOL, Eun was a Googler, working to bring high-end content to YouTube.

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Late Saturday afternoon, Eun tweeted;

“Just went through customs. Adrenaline rush is subsiding. Just trying to process all this. Really glad that most everyone I saw seemed ok, with just a few minor injuries. Thinking a lot about family and friends right now…”

1373149512000-XXX-129765-013-1307061826_4_3_rx404_c534x401Another interesting person who was supposed to be on the flight, but cancelled at the last minute, is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg:

“I was on another flight from Korea at the exact same time,” she said in an email to USA TODAY’s Jon Swartz. “We are ok. My friend on that flight is ok, too.”
Sandberg, 43, says colleagues Debbie Frost, Charlton Gholson and Kelly Hoffman also switched flights.
Sandberg, a billionaire and author of the recently released best seller Lean In, took another flight flight from Seoul to cash in air miles tickets for family members. She said the United flight landed 20 minutes before the Asiana crashed.

 

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