San Francisco plane crash leaves two dead, 182 injured

Aviation authorities in the US have begun examining flight information recorders recovered from Saturday's crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777.

The plane burst into flames on landing in San Francisco. Two young passengers are dead and over 180 people taken to hospitals, officials said on Sunday.

While the exact cause of the Asiana Airlines crash will take months to determine, a senior civil aviation official said, "The tail of the Asiana flight hit the runway and the aircraft veered to the left, off the runway.''

There was no immediate indication of the cause of Saturday's accident but Asiana said mechanical failure did not appear to be a factor. The airline declined to blame either the pilot or the San Francisco control tower.

On board the flight were 291 passengers and 16 flight crew members, traveling from Incheon International Airport in Seoul to San Francisco. All 307 aboard the plane have been accounted for.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the plane's "black boxes" - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - have been recovered and were being sent to Washington for analysis. The Federal Aviation Administration also was investigating.

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said there was no indication of a criminal act, but it was too early to determine what went wrong.

What happened?
Witnesses said the tail of the plane, which was coming in from Seoul, appeared to hit the approach area of the runway that juts into San Francisco Bay. One witness said the plane appeared to be coming in too low and too fast.

The tail came off and the aircraft appeared to bounce violently, scattering a trail of debris before coming to rest on the tarmac.

Pictures taken by survivors showed passengers hurrying away from the wrecked plane. Thick smoke billowed from the fuselage and TV footage later showed the aircraft gutted and blackened by fire. Much of its roof was gone.

The dead were both teenage female Chinese nationals who had been seated at the rear of the aircraft, according to government officials in Seoul and functionaries of Asiana.

The crash was the first fatal accident involving a Boeing 777, a popular long-range jet that has been in service since 1995.

It was also the first fatal commercial airline accident in the United States since a regional plane operated by Colgan Air crashed in New York in 2009.