Many questions unanswered in Asiana crash at SFO

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The crash landing of an Asiana Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport before noon Saturday came into sharper focus during a midafternoon news conference, but many questions — about the cause and even the number of missing — remained unanswered.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, whose department staffs three airport fire stations, confirmed two fatalities in the crash, which tore the tail off the aircraft and damaged the fuselage. The plane originated in Shanghai, China, before stopping in Seoul and carried 291 passengers and 16 additional crew members.

The initial wave of the 48 most seriously injured passengers were transported to nine hospitals in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Hayes-White said 190 additional passengers were self-evacuated and taken to an airport “safety zone.” After further checks, 82 of them were judged in need of medical care and were also on their way to area hospitals — for a total of 130 known injured.

However, Hayes-White said 60 passengers remained “unaccounted for” in the confusion. Asked if they were presumed dead, she said “not at this time … I would just ask that you give us time to … put the numbers together.” Dressed in her fire gear and looking weary, she added: “There are a lot of questions. Those will all be answered.”

Hours later, officials said all but one person aboard the plane was accounted for.

Asiana Flight 214, like all aircraft landing on the sunny clear morning, was using visual flight rules, an airport spokesman said. FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson said command of the incident was transferred to his agency at 2:45 p.m. Saturday and the FBI would be working closely with the NTSB to determine the cause.

“At this point there is no indication of terrorism,” Johnson said.

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