‘A pop and then a huge fireball’
Asiana Airlines Flight 214 from South Korea that crashed Saturday while landing at San Francisco International airport sent up a huge fireball, shedding its tail and spinning before screeching to a stop, according to eyewitness accounts.
Elliott Stone, a passenger on the flight, told CNN that he thought the plane was approaching ‘a little high (then came) down a little sharp.’
‘All of a sudden, boom, the back end just hit and flies up into the air and everyone's head goes up the ceiling,’ said Stone, who added that he ended up jumping out the plane without using the stairs or an evacuation slide.
A photograph posted to Twitter shows what appear to be passengers walking off the plane, some of them toting bags, as smoke rises from the other side, according to CNN.
‘I just crash landed at SFO,’ read the accompanying message from David Eun.
‘Tail ripped off. Most everyone seems fine. I'm ok. Surreal...’
There were ‘fire and rescue people all over the place. They're evacuating the injured. I haven't felt this way since 9/11,’ Eun, an executive at Seoul-based Samsung, said in another tweet from the airport, according to San Francisco Chronicle.
Adrian John Mirabueno, a mechanic for United Air Lines, who saw the plane landing, told the Chronicle: ‘It landed straight, then went to the side and then all you saw was hella smoke coming off it. I was scared for the families, and to tell the truth I've never seen anything like it.’
Anthony Castorani, who witnessed the landing from a nearby hotel, said he saw the plane touch the ground then noticed a large plume of smoke.
‘You heard a pop and you immediately saw a large, brief fireball that came from underneath the aircraft,’ he was quoted as saying by CNN.
Kristina Stapchuck saw the dramatic scene unfold from her seat on a plane on the airport tarmac. Soon after Flight 214 touched down, ‘it looked like the tires slipped a little bit and it rocked back,’ she told CNN.
Parts of the plane began to break off as it rocked and then began to spin. ‘It all happened so suddenly,’ Stapchuck said.
A photo provided to CNN by Eunice Bird Rah-and shot by her father, who was a passenger on the plane-shows flames and smoke bursting out of many of the aircraft's windows.