An Asiana Airlines plane slammed into a communications antenna and slid off a runway during a botched landing attempt today at Hiroshima Airport in Japan. Asiana Flight OZ162 had departed from Seoul, South Korea’s Incheon Airport. Authorities say 27 people were injured in the crash that parallels the Korean airline’s fatal 2013 crash in San Francisco.
Authorities say the Airbus A320 splintered the communications antenna-a 20-foot high structure located roughly 300 meters from the start of a runway at Hiroshima Airport. The plane then hit the runway and turned more than 90 degrees, eventually coming to a stop on a grassy area.
Passengers aboard the airliner said they were terrified to see smoke and oxygen masks drop from above them. Flight attendants were reportedly in a panic. One woman said she was certain she was going to die, adding that some people were bleeding when the plane finally came to a stop.
According to Yahoo! News, 73 passengers and eight crew members were evacuated from the aircraft using the emergency chutes. The plane’s localiser-part of the landing system-was seen hanging off of one of the wings as the victims slid down to the tarmac. A man wearing a neck brace interviewed after he was evacuated said he “saw flames, and smoke filled the plane.”
Hiroshima Airport has a sophisticated landing system designed to provide pilots with assistance on wind direction ad altitude, but only if planes are approaching from the west. The Asiana Flight OZ162 pilots were making their approach from the east.
Asiana Airlines issued a statement Tuesday saying it apologizes for “causing concern to the passengers and the people over the accident.” An Asiana spokesperson told the media that the airline is investigating claims made by Japanese news outlets that the plane was flying at a lower than normal altitude during approach.
Authorities have not speculated on the cause of the crash. The Hiroshima Police said they will conduct an investigation on suspicion of professional negligence. According to a former pilot with All Nippon Airways, Tuesday’s Asiana Airlines crash was just “one step away from a major disaster.”
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