2 dead, dozens injured, in SFO airliner crash; all passengers accounted for

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Update 7:57 p.m. S.F. Mayor says all passengers accounted for

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced Saturday night that all passengers and crew members have been accounted for. In the confusion following the accident, the city's fire chief said earlier that as many as 60 people were unaccounted for. Many of them were located in the terminal and many more passengers had been transported to hospitals than had first been reported.

"This could have been much worse," the mayor said.

At  Stanford Hospital's  trauma unit, surgeon Dr. David Spain told reporters that several of those who were brought in Saturday remained in care with "serious and life-threatening injuries." 

Three patients remain in critical condition, he said. Another 10 are in serious condition. Among the injuries they were being treated for: internal bleeding, fractures and spinal fractures.  

Vedpal Singh, who was sitting in the middle of the aircraft and survived the crash with his family, told the Associated Press that there was no forewarning from the pilot or any crew members before the plane touched down hard and he heard a loud sound.

"We knew something was horrible wrong," said Singh, who suffered a fractured collarbone and had his arm was in a sling.

"It's miraculous we survived," he said.

A visibly shaken Singh said the plane went silent before people tried to get out anyway they could. His 15-year-old son said luggage tumbled from the overhead bins The entire incident lasted about 10 seconds.

Update 6:28 p.m. Asiana Airlines provides information on passengers

Asiana Airlines released a press release saying the 291 passengers included 141 Chinese citizens, 77 Korean citizens,  and 61 U.S. citizens.

Update 6:20 p.m. SFO official: only one passenger unaccounted for

The San Francisco Fire Chief earlier said that "upwards of 60" passengers were unaccounted for, but an airport spokesman now says there is only one such person. He said 181 people have been taken to area hospitals.   

Update 5:08 p.m. LAX impacted, passengers advised to check with airlines 

A total of 22 departing flights to SFO are now confirmed cancelled throughout Saturday evening. 

Three international flights destined for SFO have landed at LAX, and another two flights are confirmed to divert to LAX through 6 p.m., according to the airport's public relations director Nancy Suey Castles.

The LAX-SFO route is a heavily trafficked one served by seven airlines (Virgin America, United, United Express, Southwest, USAirways, Delta, and American). Passengers are advised to check with their airlines on the status of their flights before coming to LAX.    

Update 4:20 p.m. City officials confirm deaths in press conference

There were two fatalities in the crash landing of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport Saturday, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White confirmed in a press conference. 

With a total of 307 people on board, including a 16-person crew, Hayes-White said about 82 people were transported to area hospitals. She also said there are "upwards of 60" passengers who are unaccounted for. 

The Asiana Airlines flight originated in Shanghai and stopped in Seoul before heading for San Francisco.

FBI is investigating the crash in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board, but initial reports show "no indication of terrorism," an FBI spokesperson said.

Several eyewitnesses said the plane made its approach the too soon and too low, and the tail clipped the seawall at the edge of the runway. The tail broke off and the rest of the plane veered off the runway, spinning around before coming to a stop. A fire immediately broke out.  

San Francisco's Mayor Ed Lee said he is deeply saddened by the incident.

"Passengers and their family are our first priority," he said at the press conference. "We will continue to give them the support they need."

Update 3:57 p.m. Varying accounts, runways reopen 

There have been varying accounts on the number of fatalities in the SFO crash. Two runways at the airport are now open. 

Update 2:29 p.m. Injured passengers in critical condition 

Rachael Kagan, a spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, told KCBS radio in San Francisco that 10 passengers had been taken to the hospital — two children and eight adults, all in critical condition.

There have been two deaths and 61 injuries from the crash, the San Francisco Fire Dept. told KCBS. Injured passengers were transported to hospitals in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

Update 1:52 p.m. Eyewitness describes plane crash, most flights diverted to San Jose and Oakland International airports

Stephanie Turner saw the plane land and the rescue slides deploy, but returned to her hotel room before seeing any passengers get off the jet, she told ABC News. Turner said when she first saw the plane she noticed right away that the angle of its approach seemed strange.

"It didn't manage to straighten out before hitting the runway," she said. "So the tail of the plane hit the runway, and it cartwheeled and spun and the tail broke off ... I mean we were sure that we had just seen a lot of people die. It was awful.

"And it looked like the plane had completely broken apart," she said. "There were flames and smoke just billowing."

The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending a team of investigators to San Francisco to probe the crash. Agency spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Saturday that NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman would head the team.

LAX only saw one flight diversion from SFO after the accident. Because San Jose and Oakland International airports are in close proximity to SFO, those airports can absorb most of the flight diversions, said spokeswoman Nancy Castle.

Castle advises that those with scheduled flights to SFO today or tomorrow check airline website for status updates. 

Update at 1:15 p.m. Flights diverted to LAX

San Francisco International Airport is reporting that all flights have been suspended. LAX tweeted that some flights scheduled to land at SFO are being diverted to the Los Angeles airport and are asking people to contact their airline for details.

A press conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. 

Update at 1:11 p.m. Nearly 300 On Board, KCBS Reports:

"The airline said 291 people were on board, but there was no official word on any casualties,"reports San Francisco's KCBS-TV.

"It's not immediately known how many casualties are involved, though televised pictures and images posted online show many survivors exiting the plane or standing outside the damaged aircraft afterward," write our colleagues on KQED's News Fix blog. "Thick smoke rose from the site of the crash on an airport runway, but the fire was quickly extinguished."

Update 1:08 p.m.: Airliner crashes on landing in San Francisco; access to SFO closed 

An Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, forcing passengers to jump down the emergency inflatable slides to safety. It was not immediately known whether there were any injuries.

The Boeing 777 was supposed to land on runway 28 left at the airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown. She said the sequence of events was still unclear, but it appeared the plane landed and then crashed.

The California Highway Patrol is reporting that all access to the airport is closed but that freeway ramps in area will be opening shortly. 

It was not immediately known whether there were any injuries, however one passenger tweeted, "Most everyone seems fine. I'm ok."

A video clip posted to Youtube shows smoke coming from a silver-colored jet on the tarmac. Passengers could be seen jumping down the inflatable emergency slides.

Television footage showed debris strewn about the tarmac and pieces of the plane lying on the runway. Fire trucks had sprayed a white fire retardant on the wreckage.

A call to the airline seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

Asiana is a South Korean airline, second in size to national carrier Korean Air. It has recently tried to expand its presence in the United States, and joined the oneWorld alliance, anchored by American Airlines and British Airways.

The 777-200 is a long-range plane from Boeing. The twin-engine aircraft is one of the world's most popular long-distance planes, often used for flights of 12 hours or more, from one continent to another. The airline's website says its 777s can carry between 246 to 300 passengers.

The last time a large U.S. airline lost a plane in a fatal crash was an American Airlines Airbus A300 taking off from JFK in 2001.

Smaller airlines have had crashes since then. The last fatal U.S. crash was a Continental Express flight operated by Colgan Air, which crashed into a house near Buffalo, N.Y. on Feb. 12, 2009. The crash killed all 49 people on board and one man in a house.

With contributions by Kristen Lepore

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