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CNN NEWSROOM

Continuing Coverage of San Francisco Airliner Crash; Two Fatalities Hold Chinese Passports

Aired July 6, 2013 - 23:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN KING, CNN: I'm John King in Washington. It's the top of the hour, 9:00 p.m. Saturday in San Francisco. We're tracking deadly breaking news. Deadly plane crash at San Francisco international airport. Two people confirmed dead after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed on a runway at SFO, San Francisco International airport. The South Korean government officials says the two killed were Chinese passport holders.

Forty-nine others are in serious condition. The airliner had flown across the Pacific, from Seoul, and preparing to land at something, something more terribly wrong. A fireball erupted. Parts of the plane shuddered and broke apart.

Huge plumes of gray and white smoke rose up. The plane's roof, what's left of it, is charred. The large capping burned that hole. Witnesses say the planes spun around throwing aircraft parts and debris across the tarmac.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked normal at first. It was taking the same angle that they always come in, like this and then the wheels were down, and then I hear something. I knew something was wrong, three or five seconds out, I said -- I started calling to my fiance and saying, this doesn't look right. This doesn't look right. And the wheels, they were too low, too soon.

So this is the runway, it came in like this. And I was just watching the wheels and it just hit like that and the whole thing just collapsed immediately. And it never really had a chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: 291 passengers and 16 crew members on board Asiana Flight 214. We just heard from the San Francisco fire chief on the latest numbers. So we know 307 people total on board this flight, 182 are hospitalized. Those 49 are seriously injured, some critically. An incredible 123 people walked away unscathed.

As we mentioned we do know this evening two people are confirmed death.

The word we're getting now from authorities is that all the souls who aboard the flight have now been accounted for in one way or another.

CNN's Dan Simon is still at the scene at San Francisco International Airport. He joins us live with the latest -- Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey, John, it's been quite a day to say the very least. We can tell you that the NTSB has a crew on the way from Washington to San Francisco. They're going to arrive approximately at midnight and begin processing the scene tomorrow.

We know that the 123 people who were brought here to the terminal, who were uninjured have now been allowed to go home or at least figure out their plans as far as, you know, going out to other destinations, etcetera, etcetera.

Here we are in the international terminal -- I just looked at this board behind me. It appears that things are sort of operating smoothly now at the airport. Most of the flights departing this evening now have online or on time departures.

As far as the injured go, John, we know that nine Bay Area hospitals have accepted patients of the patients who were brought there, 49 considered to be in serious condition. And I want to shed light more on who was on who was board the plane. We know there was 141 Chinese nationals, 77 Korean,-National is at $61 U.S. citizens and of course a whole host of nationalities on that plane.

SIMON: But, tomorrow really the work begins as far as combing through all the wreckage and trying to figure out, try to piece together what caused that plane to crash, we'll make that part landing -- John.

KING: And then we heard from the mayor, we heard from the fire chief and local officials about the first response, if will, and congratulations to them. An Amazing job.

Do we know anything about the crew of this aircraft? Obviously the NTSB wants to talk to them. But do we know anything about their whereabouts?

SIMON: We don't. We know that there were 16 members of that crew. We can certainly say that they did a fantastic job getting those passengers to a safe location, as well as the first responders, they really did a tremendous job, one would think, given the fact that you're only dealing with two people who died in this crash.

We know that of all the people who got to the terminal, 191 of them got here on their own volition. In other words they were able to get on buses. They self evacuated and got on buses and somehow got to the terminal. We know then that they were evaluated here at the terminal then -- and then about half of them were then taken to local hospitals. And I said before, 49 of them said to be in serious condition -- John.

KING: Dan Simon leading our team on the ground in San Francisco International.

Dan, thanks so much. We'll stay in touch.

Want to show you this animation now we put together based on -- all we've heard today from eyewitnesses and the like. It shows you the crash landing. You see there. The nose is up, the plane hits the rocks before making the runway. Spins out right there. Again, if you show this again, show this one more time as you come in here. You see there's the bay, the plane, too low, too soon. The tail comes off, the horizontal -- the fin and the horizontal stabilizer plane then spins on to the tarmac.

What eyewitnesses have said is that there was a slight delay before the fire became worse. That period of time key to the evacuation. A number of people watching as the (INAUDIBLE) plane approach that runway in San Francisco.

Anthony Castorani says even before touchdown, it was clear, he says, something was horribly wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY CASTORANI, CRASH WITNESS: And when it was coming down, it looked like it was going to touchdown. All wheels were down and there. And at the time that the airplane touched down the nose wheel and the nose were still flared up. It was up about three degrees and when it came -- when it came down, you just -- what -- what looked to be I was waiting for small puffs of smoke from the wheels at typically touchdown.

I did not see a small puff of smoke, I saw a lot of billowing of big white smoke just prior to a small fireball that kind of -- evolved from the bottom of the aircraft. That fireball was very quick and almost about a flash fire, and I didn't see any more fire but what I did see after that, was the airplane apparently starting to somewhat slide down the runway, with the nose still in a up position, but -- and then it began to what appeared to, in my terms anyway, do a cart wheel, is that the plane actually picked up its tail came up in the air, the nose is oriented down towards the ground.

And it was not all the way -- it was not all the way down, and then I could see the -- at the tail in the air, I could see that the tail had just completely came off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: A remarkable eyewitness account there and you're about to hear from a crash survivor. Right now dozens of patients are being treated at San Francisco's only level one trauma center. That's the San Francisco General Hospital. Right there is our Kyung Lah who just spoke with a man just released.

Kyung, you spoke with this crash survivor, Ben Levy, at the hospital. What did he tell you about what happened inside the plane?

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Before I get into what exactly he told me, John, what I found really extraordinary is that there was blood on his shirt. You could actually see the cuts on his head and he described it almost like a rollercoaster ride. He was sort of laughing about it because when you go through something like this, you're still so traumatized, you have to laugh in order to cope. He was actually one of the 53 patients who was brought here to this hospital. A total of 15 are being admitted, six in critical condition. Ben was allowed to leave the hospital because he was able to walk out. He is going to be fine. He is certainly shaken up and you will be too when you hear what exactly he told us. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN LEVY, CRASH SURVIVOR: It was like a six flags show, right? You're tied up to your chair and then again we're skipping to run way and I felt that we were going back up and I thought maybe we go back up, and start flying again, you know, attempt another landing but we went back down again. So it was -- as I said, it felt like slow motion. I was still tied to my chair until I unbuckled but our chair and the whole row was completely crushed on the chairs behind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: He says he feels extremely lucky. He was sitting right next by the exit door. He was one of the last passengers, he said, to leave, helping other passengers get out through those chutes that shoot out of the plane. He did say that he thought that there were -- that they were extremely fortunately that all the people on board that flight were extremely fortunate that there weren't more serious injuries or deaths because there wasn't an immediate fire as soon as the plane hit the ground. He says for that he is very, very grateful.

KING: Grateful and God bless him for having that sense of humor.

Kyung, for the patients still hospitalized, what are officials telling you there about the injuries that seemed to be the most prevalent?

LAH: The thing that they are really concerned about, John, they're worried about some of the smoke inhalation damage, injuries. They're also worried about some of the crush wounds. The way the doctor was describing it, it's like when you hit your head, if you're dropping very quickly and your head hits the ceiling, that's something they're very worried about because those are spinal injuries.

They're also worried about some of the fractures and some of the internal injuries that really covering the critical injuries, the serious injuries, that's what doctors are really going to pay attention to these next -- in these next 24 hours or so.

KING: And any sense of the patient still hospitalized? How many they believe will be there for the long-term, how many they believe will be there maybe for a day or two?

LAH: We know that there are going to be at least 15 admitted out of the 53. That's not the too bad. And out of those 15, six are in critical condition. It's very difficult to know in this stage of the game how many are going to be there beyond just this next 24, 48 hours. But it's really those serious crush wounds that they are very, very worried about here at the hospital, that's what doctors are going to pay attention to. KING: Paying attention and tracking all this for us is Kyung Lah. She's at the scene there in San Francisco General, the premier trauma center.

Kyung, thanks so much. We'll stay in touch.

Now one of the passengers on the plane describes the scene as complete chaos. You'll hear from him next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Live pictures thereof the crash site which is now an investigation scene at San Francisco International Airport courtesy of our affiliate KRON there.

Just a recap, we're following the latest developments now. This deadly crash at San Francisco's airport earlier today. Authorities say all 307 passengers and crew of the Asiana Flight 214 have now been accounted for.

Two people sadly tonight confirmed dead. A South Korean government official told reporters in Seoul the two fatalities held Chinese passports.

More than 100 others are hurt, some of them critically. The plane smashed into the ground just as it was approaching touchdown. It spun around and burst into flames.

One of the passengers on the horrific flight said the scene was chaos. He's OK and said the scene was chaos. He's OK and so are his friends and family. Listen, though, as he described just what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELLIOTT STONE, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 214: It seems like we're a little bit high and like we could see the tarmac down below us, and so we were coming down kind of sharp and then right when it's good to coast like for the landing, all of a sudden the engine was off. Like you sped up all the time, like the pilot knew he was short, and then just the back end was hit, and flies up in the air and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling.

And then it just kind of drift for a little bit for a good 300 yards, it tips over, fire starts, everybody is, you know, pushing the doors out. And then once we're on the ground, everybody was all huddled on one side, my family and I went to the other side, and like 20 minutes later this lady just appears from like 500 yards away, just like crippled, just walking and so we start running over and there's like another five bodies out that were like 500 yards away that nobody saw.

And so we were running over there calling the ambulance and stuff. The ambulances took like 20, 30 minutes to get there, it was really ridiculous. Like we were just yelling at people, yelling at firefighters, get over here, get over here. And they're just lagging hard and just been on the airport for four hours but nothing so -- I don't know, we're not very impressed with the whole protocol and systems that they had in place.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Elliott, where were you sitting on the plane?

STONE: We were really fortunate. We're (INAUDIBLE) the family of four, my girlfriend, her sister, and two others (INAUDIBLE) students. And we're all pretty central to the back end, got knocked off right on that landing and so it's flight attendants that were out on the tarmac. (INAUDIBLE) in the way because they're sitting in the back end and got hammered because we landed short and then they all fell out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's passenger Elliott Stone speaking to my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, earlier today.

Now this crash suddenly put the tower in crisis mode. The first job to get emergency crews headed to the crash site and to reassure the pilot. Here's some of the tower traffic the Flight 214 referred to as 214 heavy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED TOWER PERSONNEL: 214, San Francisco tower, (INAUDIBLE) to land.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) 214 .

UNIDENTIFIED TOWER PERSONNEL: 214 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding. He's on 214 heavy, San Francisco Tower.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED TOWER PERSONNEL: Asiana 249 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding. We have everyone on their way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Those emergency vehicles on their way to this. The pictures taken by a passenger who rushed off the plane just after it crashed. The camera catches a frightening scene, but the tower traffic control and the pilot seem focused almost a matter of fact. Both know help is on the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED TOWER PERSONNEL: 214 heavy, emergency vehicles are responding. Emergency vehicles are responding.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That crash understandably shut down the San Francisco International airport for quite some time before two runways were finally reopened. We're getting amazing pictures of the destruction left behind after the crash. Next, what the trail of debris might tell us about what just happened. Just what doomed Asiana Flight 214.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Updating you now on our breaking news. You see the live pictures right here. This is San Francisco International Airport coming in from our affiliate KRON. You see that 777 sitting there on the tarmac. That is now an investigative scene.

Asiana Flight 214, coming in for a landing at San Francisco International. Something went horribly wrong. Witnesses reported the tail of the plane clipping the edge of the runway. Right near San Francisco Bay. The plane then spun around, belly sliding along the tarmac, before bursting into flames. There was a total of 307 passengers and crew aboard this flight.

All passengers and crew now accounted for, two people this evening confirmed dead. A South Korean government official telling reporters in Seoul, the two fatalities held Chinese passports.

Using a diagram check this out as CNN's Rene Marsh takes a closer look at that trail of debris, trying find out what it can tell us about this deadly crash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have partially re-created the crash scene based on what we've been able to see in the pictures and the video so far. So follow me from the left side of your screen to the right. On the far left you can see debris in the water and a debris trail where the land meets the water. And in that same vicinity the wheels of the plane and the tip of the tail.

Now shift your eyes to the right a little and that's where the vertical stabilizer fell and this is what is the vertical stabilizer, this part of the tail. To the right of that is the horizontal stabilizers and that's this second of the tail here. And then when you look to the right of all of that you can see the landing gear. And then shift your eyes to the far right and that is where the fuselage ended up.

Now this is what the NTSB investigators are going to be looking at. They're going to look at how close these parts are together in relation to each other, which part came off first, which part came off second, and really no detail will be too small in trying to piece this whole thing together.

Also really crucial is going to be that data recording box as well as the voice recording box. Those hold crucial information that will need to be analyzed.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Remarkable images coming in in the aftermath of this crash, many of them from social media. Photograph posted to Twitter here by David Hume shows what appears to be passengers, you see them right there, walking, some running, off the plane. Some of them toting bags. The smoke rises from the other side of that aircraft.

He writes, "I just crashed landed, SFO. Tail ripped up. Most everyone seems fine. I'm OK. Surreal."

Within moments of the crash, fire crews were on the scene dousing the fuselages you see in here with water and foam.

Anthony Castorani who witnessed the landing from a nearby hotel then noticed the larger plume of white smoke. He told CNN he then saw, quote, "a large brief fireball that came from underneath the aircraft."

CNN iReporter Timothy Clark also was in a nearby hotel when he heard a loud crashing sound from outside. He told CNN, quote, "This is very unnerving, we have a long flight home on Monday."

If you have any video or pictures of this crash, you, too, can become a CNN iReporter. Simply go to ireport.com to post and share what you saw in San Francisco today.

Now you've heard of those so-called black boxes on planes. It record all the communications. Next, an aviation expert explains what may be on this 777 black boxes and just what investigators can learn from them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I'm John King in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world and we'll update you now on breaking news. Just to recap here are the latest developments in this deadly crash landing at San Francisco's international airport. At least two people are dead. Dozens are hurt. Some critically after something went horribly wrong as Asiana Flight 214 touched down.

Take a listen to this passenger describe the horror and the chaos on board that flight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: It seems like we're a little bit high and like we could see the tarmac down below us, and so we were coming down kind of sharp and then right when it's good to coast like for the landing, all of a sudden the engine was off. Like you sped up all the time, like the pilot knew he was short, and then just the back end was hit, and flies up in the air and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling.

And then it just kind of drift for a little bit for a good 300 yards, it tips over, fire starts, everybody is, you know, pushing the doors out.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Elliott Stone was a passenger on that flight. Authorities now tell us everyone aboard Flight 214 is accounted for.

Let's break down the latest numbers. 307 people on board, of those 182 were taken to hospitals, 49 of those were seriously injured, some critically. And incredibly 123 people were completely unscathed. As we mentioned we do know two people are confirmed dead this evening.

Let's go live now to San Francisco International Airport. CNN's Dan Simon has been reporting there throughout the day.

Dan, what are you hearing as we shift from the recovery, the response, now into the investigative phase?

SIMON: Well, we can tell you, John, that South Korean authorities are saying that the two people who died in this crash were Chinese passport holders. And that they were found on the runway according to the fire chief here in San Francisco.

Now the question is, whether they were ejected from the aircraft, whether it made impact on the ground or if they succumbed to their injuries while exiting the aircraft. That we don't know. We can tell you that nine Bay Area hospitals have accepted patients. As you said, 49 of them are seriously injured.

And, John, I should just point out that if someone were just to walk into the airport right now, Saturday night here in San Francisco, we were just seem like a regular night, you could see folks behind me with their luggage. I looked up at the monitor and I can see that most of the flights now are on time. So things, as far as the operations go at the airport, things have basically returned back to normal. There are four runways here at SFO, two of them now are operational.

In terms of the people who are on board that flight. We can tell you that there were 141 Chinese nationals, 77 Korean nationals, and 61 U.S. citizens among some of the folks on the aircraft. And so we are continuing to monitor the situation. We can tell you that the National Transportation Safety Board has a team on its way from Washington. They are expected to arrive at midnight and of course begin processing that scene tomorrow morning -- John.

KING: And Dan, as the people came off this plane, 123 unscathed, not injured at all, what is your sense in speaking to them and hearing from the first responders about how orderly or -- versus how chaotic it was right out there on that -- where that plane was resting?

SIMON: You know, it's a great question. It appears that the flight crew did an outstanding job getting those people off the plane. We can tell you that nearly 200 people, 191 passengers self evacuated, in other words, they were able to get on a bus, and then come to the terminal. Half of those wound up going to the hospital, but one would think that their injuries were not very severe if in fact they were able to get themselves onto a bus.

We could tell you that those folks have now been allowed to leave the airport, presumably they did speak to, whether it was an airline official or some kind of investigator on the ground to get their statement, probably exchange some information in terms of where they'll be if there's going to be any follow-up questions. But those people have now been allowed to leave the airport, 123 of them who's obviously spent several hours here at the terminal answering questions and talking to authorities here on the ground -- John.

KING: Dan Simon continuing to report for us on the ground in San Francisco International.

Dan, thank you, and we'll be back with you a bit later in the program.

I want to bring you an animation now we've put together. You've seen the pictures of the aftermath. Now we want to show you, based on eyewitness accounts, how that played out. You saw that right there. The plane hits early and spins off the runway. Let's look at it one more time.

Comes in, according to eyewitnesses, nose up, nose up, and you see the tail, boom. Clips right there, just at the edge, the rocky part right where you come off the bay before you're supposed to be out that runway. Spinning there into the field off the runway. That's where the fire started and that is where remarkably, remarkably most of the passengers were able to exit using the emergency slides and other exits off that plane.

All commercial airliners are equipped with flight voice and data recorders. The so-called black boxes. Earlier we spoke with an aviation expert about what appears to have gone wrong in San Francisco and what the data might show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM TILMON, AVIATION EXPERT: For whatever reason, he did not have -- the pilot did not have enough power available to correct the rate of descent that brought him into contact with the ground before he wanted to be there.

Now I've been thinking about this throughout the past few hours, and there are a number of other considerations that may or may not have been made really clear. One of them has to do with the fact that at least in one other case with a 777 in London, they were on approach to land, and they ended up landing short also, and it's my understanding that it was all because of a fuel situation.

For one reason or another, the throttles were moving and the engines were not increasing in their thrust. Therefore they landed short of the runway and short of the power they needed to continue to fly into a safe landing.

Mechanical things can be present in these airplanes that will make it impossible for the crew to do the things that they know how to do. We are going to learn a lot over the next few hours and days as those boxes are examined.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: You're looking here at live pictures of the crash scene. Now an investigative sight where those boxes will be recovered. The questions will be asked and answered more than 50 of the people injured on that aircraft when it crashed landed were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, the city's number one trauma center. Five of those patients remaining, we are told tonight, in critical condition. And one survivor who received just minor injuries is describing the confusion and the horror in the moments after that crash.

Our Kyung Lah is at the hospital and joins us now live from San Francisco with the latest -- Kyung.

LAH: Well, John, it's really amazing that there's still so much activity here at this hospital, even though, you know, the crux of what's been happening at the airport is dying down. We're -- still seeing patients coming out of this hospital, a lot of them are able to walk on their own. One of the patients we came across was Ben Levy. He was sitting near the exit row when the plane hit the ground.

He helped some of the passengers exit out of the plane as you're supposed to when you are sitting in the exit row and he has a harrowing tale. Listen to what he told us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN LEVY, CRASH SURVIVOR: You know, first of all, there were a lot of Koreans that may not speak English that well. But yes, there was disbelief, screaming and a bit of chaos, but I think we managed get everybody to calm down pretty quickly and really started getting out and not pushing each other and not stepping on each other. So it felt like it went really fast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: And Levy was also hurt. He actually had blood on that white T- shirt at the back. You could see that there were spots in his shirt. He also had a cut to his head. He says though, he feels extremely fortunate that there weren't more people injured. If you look at what happened to this plane, he say s the passengers were very extremely fortunate because the fire that gutted this plane, it didn't happen until most of them were off.

As far as what's happening here at this hospital, they did end up receiving 53 patients, 15 admitted, of them, John, six are in critical condition -- John.

KING: Six in critical condition tonight. Kyung Lah, at the scene for us at San Francisco General. A long day of reporting, we'll stay in touch with Kyung. Thanks so much.

Now this plane took off from Seoul, South Korea. Dozens on board were from that country. Next we'll go live to Seoul and get reaction from people there. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Just a recap. We're following the latest developments in this deadly crash landing, you see it right there, at San Francisco's international airport. Authorities say all 307 passengers and crews of Asiana Flight 214 have now been accounted for. They say two people are confirmed dead. A South Korean government official telling reporters in Seoul the two fatalities held Chinese passports. More than 100 other people are hurt, some of them critically.

The plane smashed into the ground just as it was touching down at San Francisco International. It spun around and burst into flames.

Take a listen as this passenger described those terrifying moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VEDPAL SINGH, PASSENGER ON FLIGHT 214: The moment that it touched, it was bang, you know, and we -- we knew that something has gone wrong, something terrible has happened. It's difficult, your instincts take over, you really don't know what's really going on.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And was it loud or was it --

SINGH: Yes, the moment it touched the runway, it was pretty loud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Right now, it's not only in San Francisco, some worried families in Seoul are waiting to hear the names of the passengers on that flight.

Asiana Airlines is one of two major airlines based in South Korea. A short time ago a South Korea government official told us two people killed in that crash. Chinese passport holders.

Let's go to our Diana Magnay. She's in Seoul.

Diana, anything new from the government officials there?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hey, John. Well, we know that the plane originated in Shanghai which is why you had so many Chinese nationals on board. There were actually 141 Chinese nationals on board this plane.

As you say, we've heard from an official from the Ministry of Transport Infrastructure and Land that those two fatalities did hold Chinese passports. The other nationalities on board, 77 South Korean, 61 U.S. citizens and one Japanese.

There are also -- there has been a flight already taken off from Seoul's international airport, a chartered Asiana flight with a team of investigators, four investigators, for the Air Safety Board here. Asiana officials also, and there's another one scheduled this afternoon, that is going to be flying family members and more officials over to San Francisco. So one flight already taken off and one on its way. We're also hearing a little bit more from Asiana about the pilot. There were four pilots apparently on board that plane and they obviously operate in shifts for what is a 10-hour flight from Seoul to San Francisco. And the man who was piloting the plane at the time, a man called Lee Jong Min, according to Asiana Airlines, and they say that he's one of their veteran pilots. Been flying for the aircraft carrier since 1996.

A little bit of information also on Asiana. As you say, it's the second of Korea's two major airlines. It's had some incidents in the past in 2011. There was one, a crash involving a cargo plane with two fatalities, and back in 1993, a very big crash where 66 people were killed. But as we've been hearing from Richard Quest in our reporting all the way through the day's events, it doesn't necessarily have a worse safety record than other airlines. It's difficult really how to judge it on that front. It is known for its customer service here in this country -- John.

KING: And Diana, the time difference was part of the issue. How quickly did the company, Asiana, reach out not only to make any public comment but also to reach out to the families, the worried families of the passengers?

MAGNAY: They established a hotline pretty early on. So, you know, the crash happened between 3:00 and 4:00 Seoul time, and by about 7:00, 8:00 a.m., they had that hotline up and running. And obviously many worried family -- family members, they say, calling in. It took them some time to issue a press release in English but they do have sort of working room for journalists up and running now.

And they are feeding us bits of information as when they themselves learn more about the specifics of the crash -- John.

KING: Diana Magnay for us live in Seoul. Part of CNN's global resources as we track this story.

Diana, we'll keep in touch. Thanks so much.

Now some of the passengers said the scene was chaos. Listen as they describe the frightening moments as the plane came down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STONE: We were like 10 seconds away from being home and seemed like we were a little bit high and like we could see the tarmac down below us and so we were coming down kind of sharp and then right when it started to coast, like for the landing, all of a sudden, the engine was all -- like you sped up all time. Like the pilot knew he was short and then there's just boom, the back end was hit and flies up in the air and everybody's head goes up to the ceiling and then it just kind of drifts for a little bit. Probably a good 300 yards.

It tips over and fire starts. Everybody is, you know, pushing the doors out. I would say that probably like 50, 75 people were like kind of like on stretchers and had neck braces and stuff. There were five that we saw that was just terrible, just, like, you know, bad, bad news. Those were the flight attendants that got dropped out the back.

The back got the worst of it. And that's what opened up, I think, like right where the flight attendants sit. And they, you know, put out right. Got them tucked there. And then we kind of fishtail for another like 300 yards, just sliding and then we rolled over, fire started and that is when everyone, all the passengers jumped out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought they were going to do something, because as the plane landed, it was kind of like this, like it was like the plane was trying to take off again. I thought. As it landed, like, it was hard like loud noise and then like the masks fell down and then like -- I don't know, severe stuff started falling down on people and then everyone started screaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: So just what will investigators be looking for when they get to that scene.

Joining us now from Charleston, South Carolina, is the former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Mary Schiavo.

Mary, let me start with this. Just when you listened there to those passengers, anything, when I listen, I'm a lay man, when you listen with your expertise, anything any of them said that would make you scribble down the notes and say, aha, that's question number one?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Well, the multiple impacts are very important. And it does of course correspondent to the debris path where you have the first strike at that seawall. There'll be lots of examination and questioning about why they were so low at that seawall.

But it's clear that is the first strike and at that point, I think it was unavoidable, the next series of sequences, and then they'll look at the debris -- the debris path and see if it matches with the eye witness and ear witness accounts of perhaps the pilot putting in more power to attempt to do a take off again and go around, which could explain the debris trail from a tail strike. So those eyewitness and air witness accounts are very, very important.

KING: And so when the NTSB team gets there, which will be in the next couple of hours. Obviously it will be night time in San Francisco, we assume the bulk of their inspection will come in the morning, although they can light that thing up overnight if they want to.

We just heard from Diana Magnay in Seoul, saying the airline is saying this is one of its most accomplished pilots. How much of the investigation is doing the who was the crew? Who was the pilot? How much experience does he have? And how much of it is the data available to them on the black boxes and other computer materials they will recover from the site?

SCHIAVO: Well, it's very, very important what's on both the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, the two black boxes because that's the unassailable evidence of exactly what was said and what happened. But the NTSB has been very tuned in to something called crew resource management in recent years. Who will challenge, who will say something. And there have been many accidents where the NTSB has been highly critical of the crew for not challenging each other.

And the pilot not flying is always supposed to challenge the pilot flying if something doesn't sound right, if they should be calling for go-around. If they aren't lined up for the landing, this being a visual approach, they needed a long glide slope in if they didn't have the equipment to do it.

And the pilot who was not flying and it's not always the first officer, as they sometimes they trade off, is supposed to challenge and the NTSB has found that that doesn't happen in some cultures such as some oriental cultures, Asian cultures do not challenge each other. The first officer does not challenge a higher ranking official. And the NTSB has been highly critical for that. So they will be looking at that and the relationship in the cockpit as well.

KING: When will the NTSB -- tell us, what it thinks happen? How long does this normally take?

SCHIAVO: Well, this particular NTSB, you know, the board component changes, you know, with each administration, and they have terms, but the particular board components right now, the members are pretty good about briefing the public and they will have briefings and there's two reasons for that. One, they do try to keep the public informed, but there's a regulation called the Family Assistance Act and it actually requires the NTSB to keep the family briefed. And while they're briefing the family, they also brief the public.

And that's law in the United States. They must do these briefings and they must keep people informed of what goes on, there has to be a hotline for the families. The families must be given all the -- opportunities to view this information and so our regulations and laws actually promote the briefing and the free exchange of information about accidents.

KING: A good cop always follows the evidence but they'll also tell you they often get a gut when they show up at the crime scene. When you look at these pictures throughout the day here, when you listen to the eyewitnesses, what does your gut tell you?

SCHIAVO: Well, my gut tells me that, you know, perhaps, it was -- it's kind of crazy to say but perhaps it was the beautifully clear day in San Francisco that threw everyone off. You are expecting an instrument approach, pilots on a plane this sophisticated, I mean, the 777 is just -- you know, it's -- everyone loves the plane. Has (INAUDIBLE), it's fully auto pilot land, it has every bell and whistle you can, and usually you fly on the auto pilot.

And the auto pilot adjusts your altitude, adjust your throttle, your speed. Gives you warnings for everything. It can -- it can fly itself. And so this particular day in San Francisco, they didn't have the instrument landing system and they didn't have the visual approach lights which tell you if you're in the right glide slope.

So here you are doing a visual approach like generally the Asian pilot does with, you know, 40 hours under his or her belt. And it might have just been too unusual, they got too low, and once they hit the wall, there was no turning back. They had to leave that plane on the ground, the attempted takeoff again was another mistake.

KING: Mary Schiavo is the former inspector general of the Department of Transportation. We appreciate your insights and your expertise as we go into our coverage into Sunday morning here in the East Coast. It is about now almost 10:00 in San Francisco. Continuing to keep our eyes on developments there.

But up next, an update from another place we're watching extremely closely. Egypt. This morning, there's confusion on just who will be the country's new prime minister.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Updating on our breaking news now. The crash of Flight 214. As Asiana Flight 214 came in for a landing at San Francisco International, something went horribly wrong. Witnesses report the tail of the plane clipped the edge of the runway. The plane then spun around. The belly sliding along the tarmac before bursting into flames. A total of 307 people on board this flight, all passengers and crew now accounted for. Two people are confirmed dead. A South Korean government official tells reporters in Seoul the two fatalities held Chinese passports.

Want to bring you up to date now on another major story we're following tonight. It's almost 7:00 Sunday morning in Egypt where there's confusion and a great deal of uncertainty over just who will be the country's new prime minister. Egyptian state media reported opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei would be sworn in Saturday afternoon, but that never happened. And now officials say there's no final decision on who will get that job.

Meantime, supporters of the deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, are keeping up the pressure. Thousands stayed up all night for a massive rally in Nasr City. That's east of central Cairo. They also massed around the Republican Guard barracks where heavily armed soldiers stood guard behind barbed wire.

That crowd gathered early Saturday for a symbolic funeral processions. They marched for their compatriots who were killed during clashes Friday outside those barracks.

Karl Penhaul was right in the middle of it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Once again tens of thousands of supporters of deposed president, Mohamed Morsi, have taken to the streets of Cairo. Today the mood is, it's a symbolic funeral, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic power base of Mr. Morsi, said that at least five of their supporters were gunned down by the military outside the headquarters of the Republican Guard after Friday prayers.

They believe that Mr. Morsi is still under arrest at the Guard headquarters. However the military has said that it did not use live fire at that scene. The Health Ministry has so far only confirmed one person dead in that incident.

As you can see, as in previous days, the crowd is certainly very passionate. The Muslim Brotherhood has set up a line of individuals here who are linking arms to make sure the crowd doesn't get out of hand to at least try and maintain some semblance of order until they reach the Republican Guard building.

As you can see the march organizers have brought with them coffins draped in the Egyptian flag. But as we're saying it's very much a symbolic funeral cortege. This is organized as they -- the bodies of the dead are not actually there, the police told the organizers that they wouldn't allow them to march if they brought actual corpses. They said they believed (INAUDIBLE) security and it's blamed the crowd. It is still several hundred yards toward the Republican Guard headquarters. So far this march has been peaceful. And that is certainly the way that organizers hope it will stay.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Cairo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: A year's long legal battle over whether to deport a radical cleric from Britain is over. The cleric, Abu Qatada, was deported to Jordan where he is wanted on terror charges. Qatada was convicted in absentia in Jordan in 1999 on charges of conspiracy to cause explosions. Britain have been trying to deport him since 2005. He now faces trial in Jordan for alleged terror attacks in 1999 and 2000.

Another country has joined the list of places now offering asylum to U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. The Bolivian government says the offer is, quote, "a fair protest" after several European countries would not allow its president, Hugo Morales' plane to access their airspace last week. Bolivia says that was due to suspicions that Snowden was on board and Bolivia says it is outraged over the incident.

Venezuela also offering some asylum while Nicaragua says it is going to consider it.