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Investigating the Crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214

The wreckage of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport.

The wreckage of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport.

From VOA Learning English, this is In The News.

American investigators this week examined wreckage from the Asiana Airlines passenger jet that crashed last Saturday at San Francisco airport. Officials say two kinds of equipment, the autopilot and auto-throttle, did not appear to have failed. American and South Korean officials are working together on the investigation. Asiana is Korea's second largest airline after Korean Air.

Asiana Flight 214 was carrying more than 300 people from Seoul to the United States. They included 141 Chinese, 77 Koreans and 61 Americans. Two passengers died after the crash. More than 180 people were taken to California hospitals for treatment. They were injured when the airplane, a Boeing 777, crash-landed.

Information from the plane's flight data recorder shows that the aircraft was traveling too slowly as it came in for a landing. The landing gear struck a seawall at the end of the airport runway, causing the tail end of the plane to break off.

Investigators are also attempting to understand events that led to a 90 second delay in the order for everyone to leave the airplane. The chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, met with reporters Thursday in San Francisco. She said her investigators had questioned six of the 12 flight attendants. The other six remained hospitalized.

Ms. Hersman said investigators would talk with all the flight crew members as they try to learn about the performance of the plane’s safety equipment. Two flight crew members were injured when emergency escape equipment inflated inside the airplane.

The equipment is supposed to open up outside the plane so passengers can slide to the ground. The air safety official said the manufacturer of the device had offered to cooperate in the investigation.

At an earlier press conference, the NTSB chairwoman said the pilot at the controls was only about halfway through his training on the Boeing 777.

But the head of Asiana Airlines rejected suggestions that the pilot and his co-pilot trainer lacked experience.
Speaking at his company's headquarters in Seoul, Asiana Airlines president Yoon Young-doo defended the pilots' training.

American lawmakers are pressing for enactment of new pilot training rules in the United States and around the world. Senator Charles Schumer is from New York, where a 2009 plane crash killed 49 people.
“There is no reason that American passengers should be put at risk by poorly trained pilots in other countries.”

Earlier this week, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye sent a letter of regret to Chinese President Xi Jinping over the Asiana Airlines crash. She also expressed sympathy to the families of two Chinese students who died. The two 16-year-old girls were the only deaths. They were found outside the plane, which caught fire as it slid down the runway. Investigators say one of the victims may have been struck by an emergency vehicle.

Some survivors of the crash have criticized the lack of emergency medical transport. Fire trucks arrived within a minute of the crash but ambulances were delayed in reaching all the injured.

And that’s In the News from VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember.

**After this report was produced, San Francisco General Hospital officials announced that a third plane crash victim, a girl, had died.

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