Breaking News Blog

Sunday, Jul 07 2013 01:47 PM

Hospital chief of surgery: Two paralyzed in San Francisco plane crash

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS

At least two passengers were left paralyzed with spinal injuries following the crash of an Asiana Airlines jetliner in San Francisco on Saturday, the chief of surgery at San Francisco General Hospital said today.

Dr. Margaret Knudson said two others suffered road rash-type injuries suggesting they were dragged.

Knudson said doctors at the hospital have also seen abdominal and orthopedic injuries and head trauma. Patients with severe abdominal injuries and spinal fractures appear to have suffered them from being thrown forward and back while restrained by seat belts.

San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said 19 people remain hospitalized, six of them in critical condition.

She said at a news conference outside San Francisco General Hospital the two 16-year-old girls who died were found on either side of the plane near the "front middle." Investigators are determining whether they were alive or dead when rescuers reached the scene.

Since the crash, clues have emerged in witness accounts of the planes approach and video of the wreckage, leading one aviation expert to say the aircraft may have approached the runway too low and something may have caught the runway lip -- part of a seawall at the foot of the runway.

Four pilots were aboard the plane and they rotated on a two-person shift during the flight, according to The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in South Korea. The two who piloted the plane at the time of crash were Lee Jeong-min and Lee Gang-guk.

Asiana President Yoon Young-doo said at a televised news conference that it will take time to determine the cause of the crash. He described the pilots as "skilled," saying three had logged more than 10,000 hours each of flight time. He said the fourth had put in almost that much time, but officials later corrected that to say the fourth had logged nearly 5,000 hours. All four are South Koreans.

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