As victims of the Asiana Flight 214 crash recover and the investigation continues, the National Transportation Safety Board has released some of the first close-up pictures of the accident that killed two while landing at San Fransisco International Airport Saturday.
The Boeing 777 plane was carrying 307 people. Investigators have said the plane was going “significantly below” the travel speed needed for landing at the airport. The call to abort the mission came just 1.5 seconds before impact.
These photos show the result:
Cabin manager Lee Yoon-hye, apparently the last person to leave the burning plane, said crew members deflated the slides with axes to rescue their colleagues, one of whom seemed to be choking beneath the weight of a slide.
Lee on Sunday described several dramatic moments in the remarkable evacuation that saved 305 of the 307 people on the plane that crashed Saturday while landing in San Francisco.
One flight attendant put a scared elementary schoolboy on her back and slid down a slide, said Lee, in the first comments by a crew member since the crash of the Boeing 777. A pilot helped another injured flight attendant off the plane after the passengers escaped. Lee herself worked to put out fires and usher passengers to safety despite a broken tailbone that kept her standing throughout a news briefing with mostly South Korean reporters at a San Francisco hotel. She said she didn’t know how badly she was hurt until a doctor at a San Francisco hospital later treated her.
It was still unclear whether the pilot’s inexperience with the aircraft and airport played a role, and officials were also investigating whether the airport’s or plane’s equipment could have malfunctioned.
Lee, 40, who has nearly 20 years’ experience with Asiana, said she knew seconds before impact that something was wrong with the plane.
“Right before touchdown, I felt like the plane was trying to take off. I was thinking, `What’s happening?’ and then I felt a bang,” Lee said. “That bang felt harder than a normal landing. It was a very big shock. Afterward, there was another shock and the plane swayed to the right and to the left.”
Lee said that after the captain ordered an evacuation, she knew what to do. “I wasn’t really thinking, but my body started carrying out the steps needed for an evacuation,” Lee said. “I was only thinking about rescuing the next passenger.”
When Lee saw that the plane was burning after the crash, she was calm. “I was only thinking that I should put it out quickly. I didn’t have time to feel that this fire was going to hurt me,” she said.
Lee said she was the last person off the plane and that she tried to approach the back of the aircraft before she left to doublecheck that no one was left inside. But when she moved to the back of the plane, a cloud of black, toxic smoke made it impossible. “It looked like the ceiling had fallen down,” she said.
The two killed in the crash were 16-year-old students from China. Many on board at the time of the crash did not require hospitalization and only a small number were critically injured.
Watch this report from officials regarding the investigation that has taken place so far:
The Associated Press contributed to this report.