6 remain critical following San Francisco plane crash - | WBTV Charlotte

6 remain critical following San Francisco plane crash

The NTSB posted photos of the beginning of their investigation on their official Twitter account early Sunday. (Source: NTSB/CNN) The NTSB posted photos of the beginning of their investigation on their official Twitter account early Sunday. (Source: NTSB/CNN)
A look inside the crashed Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 as NTSB officials begin their investigation early Sunday in San Francisco. (Source: NTSB/CNN) A look inside the crashed Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 as NTSB officials begin their investigation early Sunday in San Francisco. (Source: NTSB/CNN)
The crashed plane after the fire was put out. (Source: KTVU/CNN) The crashed plane after the fire was put out. (Source: KTVU/CNN)
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed on one San Francisco International Airport's runways Saturday. (Source: KRON/CNN) Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed on one San Francisco International Airport's runways Saturday. (Source: KRON/CNN)

SAN FRANCISCO (RNN) – Six patients, including one child, remain in critical condition following Saturday's plane crash.

The crash has already claimed the lives of two passengers, whose bodies were found outside the plane.

A representative for San Francisco General Hospital said Sunday afternoon that it received 52 patients from the crash, and 19 of them remain hospitalized with a variety of injuries.

Margaret Knudson, chief of surgery at the hospital, said the injuries ranged from head trauma, spinal fractures with paralysis, abdominal injuries and two patients who appear to have been dragged.

"Some patients have been operated on twice already, and there are many more surgeries to come," Knudson said. "We were expecting burns, but we didn't see them. Everybody who has been able to give us information said they were sitting in the back of the plane."

Knudson said three patients were immediately taken to surgery upon arrival. She said the hospital was prepared for the sudden influx and cleared the emergency room to better handle the victims' needs.

"They got the (worst) patients to us quickly, or I don't think they would have survived," Knudson said. "We did run out of blood at one point, but thanks to the blood bank of San Francisco we got that taken care of."

The hospital received 27 adults and 26 children. The age of the adults who remain in critical condition ranges from 20 to 76. The child was identified as female, but her age was withheld.

An intense investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board began late Saturday as the next phase to discover why Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash landed at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday. 

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman announced Sunday afternoon that an initial review of the black boxes revealed the plane was approaching the airport below its target speed.

"During approach, throttles were at idle and air speed was slowed below target air speed," Hersman said. "It was significantly below 137 knots, and we're not talking about a few knots here or there, we're talking about a significant amount of speed below."

Hersman said the plane's target speed was 137 knots, or about 157 mph. She said the cockpit voice recorder contained two hours of good quality data and indicates that a call to increase the plane's speed was made seven seconds prior to the plane's contact with the ground. Hersman said the throttle of the plane was engaged a few seconds prior to the crash and the engines responded normally.

Hersman said a call to initiate a go-around was made less than two seconds prior to the impact. A "go-around" would have meant the plane would have increased its altitude and circled the airport before making a second approach for a successful landing.

She said the approach was normal and there was no discussion of any anomaly with the plane or concerns among the pilots or air traffic controllers.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee confirmed that first responders have accounted for everyone on board Saturday's fatal crash of a Boeing 777, with two confirmed fatalities.

Citing Asiana Airlines's CEO Yoon Young-doo, CNN has identified the two Chinese girls who were killed as Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan, both 16 years old. The two girls were found outside the rear of the plane, according to San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White. The girls were traveling with a group of high school students.

"I bow my head and sincerely apologize for causing concern to the passengers, families and our people," Yoon said.

A total of 307 people - 291 passengers and 16 crew members - were aboard Asiana Airlines Flight 214 as it attempted to land after an approximately 10-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea.

Asiana Airlines confirmed 141 of the passengers were Chinese citizens, 77 Korean, 61 American, one Japanese and 11 others of unspecified nationalities. Among the survivors are 26 middle school students from China traveling to the U.S. for a summer camp trip, according to CNN.

The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped in Seoul, South Korea, before continuing to San Francisco.

The investigation into the crash will center on the condition and competency of the pilot, the flight data recorder inside the plane and the communications between the flight crew and the air traffic control tower to identify what went wrong.

The NTSB has already began interviewing the pilots of Asiana's plane, according to CNN late Saturday night. The NTSB also will be the first to delve into the pieces of wreckage along the runway of the jet.

The cause of the crash is unknown as of early Sunday, but according to the Associated Press, one aviation expert suggested that the plane approached the runway too low, and part of the plane caught the end of the runway's seawall. Yoon did confirm at a press conference that it was not engine failure that caused the crash, according to CNN.

Nine different San Francisco Bay-area hospitals are currently treating patients from the crash. The hospitals saw 182 passengers for injuries varying from bruises, broken bones and spinal cord injuries. 

"Currently our grand total of patients from this Asiana airlines accident is 52," said Rachel Kagan, Chief PIO, San Francisco General Hospital late Saturday. "This last wave or most recent wave of patients has been in much better shape than the previous three waves. Most of them can walk in on their own. They can talk. They are conscious."

During a press conference in Washington, DC, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Debbie Hersman said three investigators based in Los Angeles are deploying to the scene to start the investigation.

"We have a lot of work to do. When our teams arrive on scene, we're going to be looking for the cockpit recorder and see if it was working at the time of the crash," Hersman said. "We haven't determined what the focus of this investigation will be. We have to gather the facts before we can make any conclusions. NTSB investigations are very thorough."

According to the Associated Press, the plane, a Boeing 777, has a nearly sterling record, with the Asiana Airlines plane being just the second major accident in the 18-year history of the model. The Boeing 777 was introduced into service in 1995.

The first accident was British Airways Flight 28 from China as London's Heathrow Airport on Jan. 17, 2008. There were no fatalities, but 47 passengers were injured. Investigations later discovered that fuel was blocked from the planes' engines because of high altitudes, creating ice pellets in the fuel that clogged the fuel-oil heat exchange, according to the Associated Press.

"The 777 has a fantastic record," retired NTSB investigator Tom Haueter told the Associated Press.

The last fatal commercial airplane crash in the U.S. was Feb. 12, 2009, when a Continental Express flight crashed into a home in Buffalo, NY, killing all 49 people on board and one person inside the home.

According to CNN, Asiana Airlines has only had two other fatal accidents in the last 20 years: in 2011, a cargo plane crashed into the East China Sea, killing the only two on board. In 1993, a Boeing 737 crashed near South Korea's Mokpo Airport because of bad weather, killing 68 of 116 people aboard the plane.

Lee placed his emphasis on comforting the victims.

"We're deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts and prayers are with our friends and those affected," Lee said.

Lee also expressed his sympathy to South Korea, where the plane's operator, Asiana Airlines, is based.

All air traffic out of San Francisco International Airport was canceled for about three hours, and arriving aircraft were diverted to different airports in the region. Two of the airport's runways were re-opened Saturday afternoon and the runway adjacent to the one involved in the crash was re-opened Sunday.

The FBI said there were no indications of terrorism or criminal activity associated with the crash.

Boeing tweeted a statement that said, "Our thoughts are with everyone affected by today's incident at SFO. We stand ready to assist the NTSB."

Asiana Airlines released a statement later Saturday from its Seoul, South Korea headquarters, saying, "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."

Video of the aftermath of the crash shows smoke rising from the plane and passengers leaving the wreckage using the inflatable slides attached to the plane's side doors.

Flight passenger Ben Levy recounted how the plane felt before it crashed as he left the hospital.

"It sounded like we were about to land. The nose of the plane, you know it goes up a little bit, full throttles, start hitting hard," Levy said. "We felt like we were going up again. I felt like he was going to pull one of those almost missed landings and go back up. Didn't happen we just crushed back. If we flipped, none of us would be here to talk about it."

David Eun posted a photograph on Twitter shortly after the crash showing passengers leaving the wreck. Eun, who is an executive at Samsung, said he was on board the plane during the crash.

Shortly after posting the picture, Eun tweeted, "Fire and rescue people all over the place. They're evacuating the injured. I haven't felt this way since 9/11." He also said that most of the passengers appeared to be OK.

One witness told CNN the plane spun sideways once it hit the ground.

"Nose wheel never hit the ground. There was no fireball after the initial one," Anthony Castorani, a witness at the airport, said. "There was a white plume of smoke, then after they doused it for about 20 minutes, there was some lighter smoke."

There were no first responders on the runway as the plane landed, and other planes were lined up ready for takeoff.

The weather was clear at the time of the crash, and local station KTVU reported there was little to no wind.

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