2 killed in San Francisco plane crash; Tail torn from Asiana Airlines Boeing 777

SAN FRANCISCO - Two people were killed and dozens of others were injured when the tail of an Asiana Airlines airliner was torn off in a violent crash landing at San Francisco airport.

The Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea, crashed while landing. The tail was torn from the Boeing 777 and debris was strewn in a path stretching along the runway from a seawall at one end.

Two people were killed, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.

At a 6:45 p.m. MDT news conference, San Francisco Assistant Deputy Fire Chief Dale Carnes said only one person was unaccounted for.

He said 181 were taken to the hospital, 49 of them were taken immediately. The other 132 were taken to the hospital after being triaged at the airport. He also said 123 were uninjured.

At a news conference around 5:10 p.m. MDT, the fire chief originally said there were about 60 unaccounted for.

Hayes-White said, "This is a work in progress."

Around 7:30 p.m MDT, Asiana Airlines released the breakdown of passengers on the flight.

A total of 291 passengers and 16 crew members were aboard the plane.

-141 Chinese citizens

-77 Korean citizens

-61 US citizens

-One Japanese citizen

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said the Boeing 777 was supposed to land on runway 28 left at the airport at 11:26 a.m. PDT. She said the sequence of events was still unclear, but it appeared the plane landed and then crashed.

Video from KTVU's helicopter showed fire damage to the top of the fuselage. The plane was surrounded by fire-retardant foam and the tail of the plane was broken off from the rest of the aircraft.

A piece of metallic debris was also seen sticking out of the water beyond the end of the runway.

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"The tail was very low and when it hit, sparks flew," eyewitness Liane Bauman described.

"It was way too low, way too soon and the wheels caught and the tail of the plane caught before it got to the runway and then it pancaked on the runway," another witness said.

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.

San Francisco airport suspended all flights for several hours, and Denver International Airport spokeswoman Laura Coale said 18 flights Saturday afternoon between Denver and San Francisco were impacted. Those flights were on Southwest, United and Frontier.

In addition, Coale said four flights scheduled to fly to San Francisco were diverted to Denver after the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it's sending a team of investigators to investigate the crash. Spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said Saturday that NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman would head the team.

--Statement from Asiana Airlines--

"Asiana Airlines flight OZ214 (Aircraft Registration HL7742) departed Incheon International Airport on July 6, 2013 at 16:35 (Korea time) bound for San Francisco. Only July 7, 2013 at 11:28 (Local time) an accident occurred as OZ214 was making a landing on San Francisco International Airport's runway 28.

"There were a total of 291 passengers (19 business class, 272 travel class) and 16 cabin crew aboard. The majority of the passengers were comprised of 77 Korean citizens, 141 Chinese citizens, 61 US citizens, 1 Japanese citizen, etc. for a total of 291 people. Asiana Airlines is currently investigating the specific cause of the incident as well as any injuries that may have been sustained to passengers as a result. Asiana Airlines will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation of all associated government agencies and to facilitate this cooperation has established an emergency response center at its headquarters.

"At this point no additional information has been confirmed. New developments will be announced as more information becomes available."