An Asiana Airlines flight travelling from Seoul crash landed at the San Francisco International Airport on Saturday.
The impact smashed the plane into pieces and ripped its tail.
Two people were killed and 182 injured in the mishap. The flight was carrying 307 passengers along with crew members.
The plane crashed at 11.27 am while landing close to Bay Shore and burst into flames, forcing passengers to jump down the emergency inflatable slides to safety. Many had to cut their seat belts with knives to escape, said officials from the airlines.
Vedpal Singh, of Indian descent travelling on the flight along with his wife and a 15-year-old son, told the media, “There was no warning from the pilot before the plane crashed.”
"I am thankful to God I survived," said Singh, who fractured his collar bone.
Describing the situation on the flight, he said, “At first, it was difficult to know what's going on. There was a bang; a loud bang. We understood something was terribly wrong," he added.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said, "We are lucky that so many survived. Our prayers and thoughts continue with the families."
Airline officials said that the injured were transferred to various local hospitals. Forty seven of them are in critical condition, they added.
According to Rachael Kagan, chief communications officer, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centre, where the injured were pouring in, 52 of them had been admitted. “These patients arrived in small groups of three to five ambulances. They are in the best shape -- all can walk and talk. They are currently being assessed,” said Kagan.
Many injured travellers were also transferred to Saint Francis Hospital near the airport. The hospital spokesperson said they have received seven injured travellers who are not in critical condition.
Mills-Peninsula Health Services told rediff.com that 12 victims have been admitted.
The reason for the crash is yet to be ascertained, but officials have ruled out foul play. The officers said the investigation is ongoing and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is on the site of the crash. They are waiting for the National Transportation Safety Board team to further probe the accident.
San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-Whites told rediff.com that it is not known how many passengers were of Indian nationality, but said that of the 307 onboard, 77 were Koreans, 141 were if Chinese origin and 61 were citizens of the United States. There was one Japanese and one Vietnamese travelling on the ill-fated flight, while the origins of 11 are not known.
Soon after the plane crash, US President Barack Obama was made aware of the incident by Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counter terrorism.
"The president will continue to be updated as new information becomes available. He expressed his gratitude for the first responders and directed his team to stay in constant contact with the federal, state and local partners as they investigate and respond to this event. His thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash," the White House said.
With additional inputs from PTI
Image: Search and rescue officials surround an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport in California | Photograph: Jed Jacobsohn/Reuters