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Aerial photo of the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 lies on the ground after it crashed at the San Francisco International Airport, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Plane Crash

Asiana chief defends 'experienced' pilots as investigators question them

Two teenage Chinese girls were killed and more than 180 people injured when the flight skidded out of control and went on fire.

SOUTH KOREA’S ASIANA Airlines defended the pilots of the San Francisco crash jet as “very competent” as attention focused on whether human error caused the Boeing 777 to slam into the runway.

US investigators say the plane was flying far too slowly when it clipped a seawall short of the runway on Saturday.

Asiana chief executive Yoon Young-Doo said he would travel to California to meet transport safety officials and victims, after US investigators said they had begun questioning the cockpit crew.

Two teenage Chinese girls were killed and more than 180 people injured when the flight from Shanghai via Seoul went skidding out of control on its belly, shredding the tail end of the plane and starting a fire.

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed upon landing on Saturday. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)

Yoon said the trainer who was acting as co-pilot at the time of the crash, Lee Jung-Min, had led 33 flights on 777s to San Francisco and had more than 3,000 flight hours under his belt, far more than the 500 required to become a trainer.

The pilot who was at the controls, Lee Kang-Kuk, who was still undergoing training on the 777, had also led 29 flights to San Francisco on 747s in the past, he said.

Passenger Kim Ji-Eun was seated a few rows ahead of dozens of Chinese passengers at the rear of the cabin, including the two girls, and described seeing passengers “being thrown out everywhere”.

“It was so scary. The (second) thud was so loud that people started screaming. I blinked once and looked back, only to see no one there,” Kim, 22, said.

Two teenage girls killed

Family and friends in eastern China’s Zhejiang province are mourning the two dead passengers — identified by state media as high-school classmates Ye Mengyuan, 16, and Wang Linjia, 17.

One of the girls may have been run over by an airport fire engine rushing to the scene, San Francisco Fire chief Joanne Hayes-White told reporters on Monday.

According to aviation safety databases, the two dead teens are the Boeing 777′s first fatalities in 18 years of service.

It was the first deadly Asiana passenger plane crash since June 1993. Shares in the company tumbled nearly six percent on Monday but clawed back some of their losses on Tuesday to close up 1.14 percent.


Read: Investigators examine ‘black box’ from San Francisco plane crash>
In pictures: The jet crash in San Francisco that killed two and injured 182>

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