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Two Dead, 181 Injured After Plane Crashes at San Francisco Airport

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- An Asiana Airlines passenger jet crashed at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday, killing two people and injuring 181 others.

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White described it as a "fluid situation" and said that "not everyone has yet to be accounted for."  She initially said that "upwards of 60 people were unaccounted for," but officials later said everyone had been accounted for.

The two passengers who died were 16-year-old girls from China, the San Mateo County coroner's office confirms. Wang Linjia and Ye Mengyuan were part of a student group from at Jiangshan Middle School in China's eastern Zhejiang province, according to Chinese news media reports. They were reportedly heading here to the Bay Area  to attend a Summer program. Their bodies were found on the runway.

The injured were being cared for at several hospitals and at least 22 were in critical condition.

Asiana Airlines Flight 214 originated in Shanghai, China, and had a stopover in Seoul, South Korea, before it crash landed on the runway in San Francisco.  

The Boeing 777 was carrying 291 passengers, including an infant, plus at least 16 crew members, according to the airline.  An Asiana Airlines official in Seoul told ABC News that 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans and 61 U.S. citizens were on board.

Stephanie Turner saw the Asiana Airlines flight crash and said she was sure that she "had just seen a lot of people die."

Turner said that when she saw the plane preparing to land on the runway, it looked as if it was approaching at a strange angle.

"As we saw the approaching Asiana flight coming in, I noticed right away that the angle was wrong, that it was tilted too far back," she said.  "The angle didn't manage to straighten out and the tail broke off."

"It looked like the plane had completely broken apart," Turner said.  "The flames and smoke were just billowing."

Aerials of the crash, provided by ABC News' San Francisco station KGO-TV, showed the plane's tail severed from its body, as well as the majority of the aircraft's roof completely charred away.  One of the plane's wings appears to have snapped upon impact.  Debris from the crash landing was scattered across the airport's runway 28.

The San Francisco International Airport closed at approximately 1:10 p.m. as a result of the crash, according to the FAA website.

Some of the injured were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

"We have burns, fractures and internal injuries," said hospital spokeswoman Rachel Kagan.

She said the hospital had also put out a call for its Korean speaking staff and translators to come to work.

A video posted on YouTube showed gray smoke billowing from the plane, which was lying on the runway on its fuselage.  Chutes had been deployed from the plane's emergency exits.

Law enforcement officials told ABC News that the crash appeared to be an accident, but that they were investigating.  The National Transportation Safety Board immediately sent a team of investigators to the crash site.

Investigators plan to collect the cockpit voice and data recorders from the plane, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said at a news conference.

Hersman said the NTSB is working with Boeing, the FAA, as well as the Korean Air and Accident Investigation Board to investigate the crash.

The Boeing 777 is one of the safest airplanes in use, ABC News aviation analyst John Nance said.

"These airplanes are over the water, over the ocean all the time and Asiana has been running them for many years very successfully," Nance said.

Boeing issued a statement to ABC News on the news of the crash.

"Boeing extends its concern for the safety of those on board Asiana Airlines Flight 214," the company said.  "Boeing is preparing to provide technical assistance to the National Transportation Safety Board as it investigates the accident."

The last Boeing 777 to crash was a British Airways jet en route from Beijing to London's Heathrow airport, which crash landed short of the runway in January 2008.  There were no fatalities, but 47 people on board sustained injuries.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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