UPDATED - At least two people are dead after a Boeing 777 jetliner crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday. Over 180 others were transported to area hospitals with 49 people in serious condition, officials said. Hours after the crash, just one person remained unaccounted for.
Video footage following the crash-landing showed fire crews dousing out flames spanning from behind the cockpit to the wings of the aircraft. The plane’s tail and debris were later found scattered across the runway away from the body of the jetliner.
In the aftermath of the crash, federal investigators could not determine a cause. But preliminary investigations indicated that Asiana Airlines Flight 214 came up short on its landing and hit the seawall of San Francisco’s airport, NBC News reports. A source close to the investigation also told NBC News that the pilot made no distress calls prior to landing.
There were 307 people on board the flight, San Francisco fire chief Joanne Hayes-White said—291 passengers and 16 crew members.
Plane crash survivor Benjamin Levy described the harrowing ordeal as chaos on board once the plane made its eventual stop.
“It was a bit surreal—a lot of people screaming not really believing what was happening to them,” Levy told NBC Bay Area following the crash. The evacuation slide and portions of the aircraft’s wing were gone, he added. And though he saw many head injuries, Levy said most of the passengers appeared to have safely evacuated the plane.
Officials said the flight originated in Shanghai, China, before stopping in Seoul, South Korea, to eventually touch down in San Francisco. Two of the four runways have been reopened in San Francisco, while some flights were being diverted to neighboring airports, officials said.
David Eun, who says he was on board the downed flight, posted a photo of the crash to Twitter showing passengers walking away from the aircraft having exited by emergency exit slides. “I just crash landed at SFO. Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok. Surreal…” he wrote.
Eyewitness to the crash Stefanie Turner told msnbc that she saw the tail of the aircraft cartwheel down the runway.
“The tail was too low. Instead of coming in flat it was coming in at a 45-degree angle, with the tail far too low,” she said. “It really went through quite a few acrobatics on the runway.”
Federal investigators said they are still working to find the cause of the crash, but that there was no indication of terrorism. Boeing acknowledged the crash over Twitter, saying “our thoughts are with everyone affected by today’s incident at SFO.”
White House officials said President Obama is being updated on new developments while he remains at Camp David for the weekend. In a statement, the White House said the president’s thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash.
Asiana airline’s president confirmed that two 16-year-old Chinese students were been killed in the crash; the young women were identified as Ye Mengtuan and Wang Linjia.
Deborah Hersman, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board told msnbc’s Steve Kornacki that investigators had recovered the flight data recorders and voice recorders and would examine them in their facilities in Washington DC. She also said on Meet the Press that interviews with passengers and crew members would be key to determining what caused the crash.
Hersman also said that while it is too soon to know what the crash’ cause was, the weather had been clear and there is “no indication of a criminal act.”
The flight’s pilot can be heard saying “I have trouble” in audio recovered from shortly before the crash.