Asiana flight 911 tapes: Commuters, hikers reported crash

Calls of a plane crash at San Francisco International Airport flooded into 911 dispatchers from seemingly everywhere after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 went down.

One caller saw the smoke from the burning wreckage while driving north on the 101 Freeway. Another, a man who was hiking near Pacifica, said he heard a “giant explosion” and wanted to report a plane crash.

One passenger calmly told a dispatcher he was on the plane.

“Our airplane just crashed,” he said. “We’re in the middle of the runway.”


As critically injured passengers lay on the runway near the wreckage of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, other passengers pleaded with emergency dispatchers to send ambulances to help the victims, according to 911 tapes released Wednesday.

The tapes, released by the California Highway Patrol, offer new information on the initial chaotic moments of Saturday’s crash at San Francisco International Airport that left two people dead and 182 injured.

The callers first spoke with CHP dispatchers and then were transferred to medical and fire dispatchers in San Francisco.

911 Calls: Passengers plead for help

“There are no ambulances here. We’ve been on the ground 20 minutes,” one woman said on the tape, which was obtained by NBC Bay Area.

Another female passenger told a dispatcher that there were not enough medics to treat the injured.

“There are a bunch of people who need help,” the woman said, adding that one victim had severe burn injures. “She’s really burned. She will probably die soon if she doesn’t get help.”

The emergency response by the San Francisco Fire Department will be among a number of areas investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said Wednesday that the first fire truck arrived two minutes after the crash and began spraying foam a minute later.

It took up to 90 seconds after the crash before passengers and crew began evacuating the plane, Hersman said.

Flight attendants initially told passengers to stay in their seats and not evacuate, officials said.

The cockpit told flight attendants to wait while crew communicated with air traffic controllers, Hersman told reporters. Evacuation began about 90 seconds after the plane stopped moving, when a senior flight attendant spotted flames on the right side of the plane.

“We don’t know what the pilots were thinking,” Hersman said. Some crews wait to evacuate until first responders arrive, she said, and the pilots may not have realized that flames were nearing the cabin.

The crash killed two people. Four passengers remain in critical condition.


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