Chinese survivor on crash ordeal

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(APTN)

A Chinese passenger on the airliner that crashed while landing at San Francisco Airport on Saturday has described the terror on board when the jet slammed into the runway.

The tail of the Boeing 777 was torn off as the plane hit the ground.

Businessman Xu Da was sitting near the back of the aircraft.

“I looked behind me and the entire kitchen was gone,” he said. “Instead, there was just a big hole.”

Asiana Flight 214 had been in the air for nearly 11 hours as it approached San Francisco. It began its journey in Shanghai with a stopover in Seoul, South Korea.

Describing the landing, Xu said the sea wall at the start of the runway seemed higher than the rear of the plane.

“I was thinking about it when I heard the engine starting to race,” he said.

“I thought to myself that there must be something wrong with the position of the plane. I was worried that the rear would hit the ground so I reached out to hold the seat in front of me. And then I heard a huge noise in the back.”

He said the lights in the cabin went out and oxygen masks dropped down and he felt the plane was “taxiing very roughly.”

“I could smell something burning and saw sparks in the front of the cabin,” he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Xu, an executive with an e-commerce company, was seated next to his wife on a private visit to the United States.

“My bag happened to be at hand so I grabbed it and intended to get out of the plane from the back,” he said.

But when he looked, there was just a big hole open to the outside.

“The sunlight was very strong out there. Some people were screaming ‘let’s get out that way’, because at the beginning, way too many people were trying to exit from the front,” he said.

Xu posted some of the photographs he took on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo.

The Boeing 777 slammed into the runway breaking off its tail and catching fire before slumping to a stop that allowed the lucky ones to flee down emergency slides into thick smoke and a trail of debris.

Firefighters doused the flames that burned through the fuselage with foam and police officers on the ground threw utility knives up to crew members so they could cut the seat belts of those who remained trapped as rescue crews removed the injured.

By the time the 307 people on the flight all were accounted for several hours later, two people found outside the wreckage had been confirmed dead and 182 transported to area hospitals.

San Francisco Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said 49 people were critically injured and 132 had less significant injuries.

The two deceased were two 16 year-old Chinese girls, according to the Consulate of China in San Francisco.

The airline said there were 16 crew members aboard, and the 291 passengers included 77 South Koreans, 141 Chinese, 61 Americans and one Japanese citizen. The nationalities of the remaining passengers were bit immediately known.

(Copyright 2013 APTN. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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