(CNN) — A Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines crashed while landing Saturday at San Francisco International Airport.
Flight 214 left Seoul’s Incheon International Airport earlier Saturday and flew 10 hours and 23 minutes to California, according to FlightAware, a website that offers tracking services for private and commercial air traffic.
Anthony Castorani, who witnessed the flight land from a nearby hotel, said he saw the plane touch the ground then noticed a larger plume of white smoke.
“You heard a pop and you immediately saw a large, brief fireball that came from underneath the aircraft,” he told CNN.
Kristina Stapchuck saw the dramatic scene unfold from her seat on a plane on the airport tarmac. Soon after Flight 214 touched down, “it looked like the tires slipped a little bit and it rocked back,” she told CNN.
Parts of the plane began to break off as it rocked and then began to spin.
“It all happened so suddenly,” Stapchuck told CNN.
Video taken soon after the crash and posted on YouTube showed dark gray smoke rising from the plane, which appeared to be upright. That smoke later became white, even as fire crews continued to douse the plane.
A photograph posted to Twitter shows what appear to be passengers walking off the plane, some of them toting bags, as smoke rises from the other side.
“I just crash landed at SFO,” read the message accompanying the picture from David Eun. “Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I’m ok. Surreal…”
The top of the aircraft was charred and, in spots, gone entirely, according to video from CNN affiliate KTVU. The plane was on its belly, with no landing gear evident and the rear tail of the plane gone.
Fire trucks were on site, while first responders could be seen walking outside the aircraft.
Evacuation slides could be seen extending from one side of the aircraft, from which there was no apparent smoke.
Corrine Gaines, from the U.S. Coast Guard’s operations in San Francisco, said that a helicopter from the Guard had been launched and that her agency is helping others responding at the scene.
There were a few clouds in the sky around the time of the crash, and temperatures were about 65 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Winds were about 8 miles per hour.
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a “go team” that will be led by chairwoman Deborah Hersman to investigate the crash, the agency said.
Asiana Airlines– one of South Korea’s two major airlines, the other being Korean Air — got the plane involved in the incident in 2006, according to the Aviation Safety Network. The craft has two Pratt & Whitney engines, it said.
Asiana operates many of its flights out of Incheon International Airport, which is the largest airport in South Korea and considered among the busiest in the world.
San Francisco International Airport, located some 12 miles south of downtown San Francisco, is California’s second busiest, behind LAX in Los Angeles.
According to information on Asiana Airlines’ website, the company has 12 Boeing 777 planes. They have a seating capacity of between 246 and 300 people and had a cruising speed of 555 mph (894 kph).
Article Courtesy of CNN
Picture Courtesy of KTVU-TV Oakland and CNN