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Asiana Airlines passenger jet crash lands at San Francisco airport

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SAN FRANCISCO, July 6 (Yonhap) -- An Asiana Airlines passenger jet carrying 307 people crashed landed at San Francisco International Airport, U.S. civil aviation authorities said Saturday.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the crash occurred at around 11:20 a.m. local time. Authorities here said the incident involved Asiana flight 214 from Seoul to San Francisco.

Asiana is South Korea's second largest national carrier after Korean Air, and a member of the Star Alliance, with the accident marking it the second time in the company's history that one of its passenger jets was involved in a major accident. The last accident occurred in 1993 when a B737-500 crashed while trying to land at Mokpo airport, 410 kilometers south of Seoul. Two crew members and 66 passengers of the 110 on board were killed.

It was not yet known if there were injuries or casualties, but unconfirmed local media reports said one or two passengers may have been killed and that 20 to 60 people could be hurt. Authorities said the accident caused normal flight operations to be suspended at the airport.

The FAA said the ill-fated plane may have collided with something after it had landed on the runway, with local media showing video clips on YouTube and television footage of the plane's emergency evacuation slides being deployed and people fleeing the wreckage. Images showed considerable damage to the plane's structure including the wings and engines with the tail section having come off completely. The ensuing fire following the crash were contained.

A passenger on the jet told rescue workers that despite the crash, most people on board seemed to be alright, while eyewitnesses said the crash was horrific.

News reports here said the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched an investigation team to determine the cause of the crash, and that Boeing, the plane's manufacturer, is preparing to provide technical assistance for the probe of one of its best-selling jets. Asiana's U.S. headquarters also said all of its employees have been ordered to report to work with a team being sent to San Francisco.

"We have only been told about the crash and do not have details," an executive said, adding that the company will cooperate fully with authorities on this matter.

The B777-200ER is a twin-engined, long-range jet popular with many airlines around the world. Asiana reported 12 of the jets in its fleet.

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