NTSB says intern responsible for fake flight crew names of crashed Asiana plane

San Francisco TV station airs fake names

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board issued an apology Friday evening for " inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana flight 214, which crashed at San Francisco International Airport on July 6."

San Francisco station KTVU was caught in a social media tsunami Friday afternoon after its noon broadcast carried the purported names of the flight crew -- all fake names designed to sound offensive when read out loud.

A station news anchor gave the names as "Sum Ting Wong," "Wi Tu Lo," "Ho Lee Fuk" and "Bang Ding Ow" as an onscreen graphic showed the names printed out.

The station issued an apology later in the newscast saying "an NTSB official" confirmed the names. It also posted an apology online.

Friday evening, the NTSB weighed in, explaining "in response to an inquiry from a media outlet, a summer intern acted outside the scope of his authority when he erroneously confirmed the names of the flight crew on the aircraft."

The NTSB statement also reiterated that the agency  "does not release or confirm the names of crew members or people involved in transportation accidents to the media. We work hard to ensure that only appropriate factual information regarding an investigation is released and deeply regret today's incident. "

The NTSB said that "appropriate actions" will be taken to ensure such a "serious error" is not repeated.

While the station continued to say the names were "confirmed" by the NTSB, it did not say where the names originally came from.

The station issued another on-air apology during its 6 p.m. newscast.

“First of all, we never read the names out loud (ahead of time), phonetically sounding them out,” anchor Frank Somerville said, adding that the station also didn’t ask the position of the person within the NTSB giving them the ultimately erroneous information.

The names of the two pilots on the plane had previously been released, so it wasn't clear why the new names  didn't raise a red flag in the newsroom.

“We are hardly satisfied with the station’s statements, and its unwillingness to help us understand how the gaffe originated,” Paul Cheung, the president of the Asian American Journalists Association.

Watch the initial KTVU report below, followed by the station's apology issued later in the newscast.

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