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Investigation Into San Francisco Plane Crash Begins


It's Weekends on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Sheir. More now on the breaking news out of San Francisco, that's where an Asiana Airlines flight from Seoul, South Korea crashed earlier today. A team from the National Transportation Safety Board is on its way to investigate the crash at San Francisco International Airport. Details are still sketchy surrounding the crash, which occurred at 11:36 a.m. Pacific Time. NPR's Brian Naylor joins us now. Brian, what do we know about injuries?

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Rebecca, according to a spokesperson at San Francisco General Hospital, as many as 75 people were taken to hospitals from the airport. They're saying that 10 critically injured people are at SF General. There are more patients on the way, but we've not heard any confirmed reports of fatalities at this point.

SHEIR: What more can you tell us about the crash itself?

NAYLOR: Well, we still don't know very much. It was a Boeing 777. That's a long-haul jet flying from Seoul, South Korea. It was Asiana Flight 214. And it apparently crash-landed at the beginning of runway 28 left. There are TV pictures that show the jet sitting on its belly, the tail section is missing and there is a gaping hole on the top of the plane. The jet's inflatable slides were deployed. And there are reports that, you know, we saw pictures of people walking away from the accident, from the wreckage.

SHEIR: So we think there may have been survivors, but at this point we do know people are in the hospital.

NAYLOR: Yeah. Right.

SHEIR: Now, the NTSB just held a briefing in Washington, what did they say?

NAYLOR: Right. NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman talked to reporters. They are sending a go team out to San Francisco from Washington to lead the investigation into the crash. She said that they'll be looking at a number of issues - the structure of the plane, air traffic control conditions, weather conditions. They'll be looking for the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. They'll be working with the FAA, the Boeing company and the Korean equivalent of the NTSB.

And there are also some investigators already on the ground who are based in L.A. They'll be going out there. But it's - she said it's just too early to say, you know, she was asked if anything is known about the cause, and all she could say is that it crashed on landing, and beyond that, not much is known.

SHEIR: Now, Brian, you said it was a Boeing 777, a long-haul jet. What more can you tell us about this aircraft?

NAYLOR: Well, it has a, you know, it's a pretty reliable plane. It's kind of the mainstay of a lot of these international long-haul flights. It was involved in at least one other incident back in 2008, a British Airways flight landed short of the runway at Heathrow. No one was killed in that crash. But that was apparently caused by clogged fuel line. We don't know, obviously, what caused this crash. But I should say that this is a - this has been a pretty good run for commercial aviation. This is the first crash with fatality since 2009. So that's a pretty amazing record.

SHEIR: NPR's Brian Naylor, thank you so much for being here with us and bringing us the latest updates from San Francisco.

NAYLOR: Thank you, Rebecca. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.