SAN FRANCISCO (CNN)-
Shortly after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco, passengers and witnesses pleaded with 911 responders to send help — some frantically, some insistently.
“I’m reporting an airplane crash at SFO (San Francisco International Airport),” an early witness said in calls released by the California Highway Patrol.
“An airplane crash at SFO?” a dispatcher asked.
“Yeah. We were hiking on a trail outside Pacifica and we heard a giant explosion and … an airplane had crashed right there at SFO.”
Another caller dialed 911, thinking the response was taking too long.
“We still don’t see any firemen or anything,” another witness said.
“We are responding, trust me,” the operator responded.
Moments before, the Boeing 777’s main landing gear slammed into a seawall between the airport and San Francisco Bay, spinning the aircraft 360 degrees as it broke into pieces and eventually caught fire.
Those who could poured out of the plane in the aftermath, dialing for help as they escaped.
“We are at the San Francisco airport and our airplane just crashed upon landing and we think we need someone here, someone here as soon as possible,” a passenger said.
The dispatcher asks: Which runway?
“I don’t know what runway. We just literally ran out of the airplane.”
First responders were on the scene two minutes after the crash to tend to the injured, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said Wednesday. About a minute later, there were firefighters equipped to douse the flames.
“We just got in a plane crash and there are a bunch of people who need help and there is not enough medics,” a frantic caller said. “There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned severely on the head and we don’t know what to do.”
The dispatcher assured the caller that help is on the way.
The crash claimed the lives of two 16-year-old girls from China, who were coming to the United States for a church camp.
Of the 307 passengers and crew aboard the Seoul-to-San Francisco flight, 305 survived. Out of those, 123 were uninjured, while the rest went to Bay Area hospitals. Some of them were still there, including a handful in critical condition.
The shear number of injured overwhelmed emergency crews for a time, frustrating those who survived, but saw their fellow passengers suffering.
“There are no ambulances out here,” a caller said. “We have been on the ground for 20 minutes. Critical injuries.”
“Were you on the plane ma’am?” the dispatcher asks.
“Yes I was on the plane! We have been on the ground for, I don’t know 20 minutes to half an hour?” she said. “There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries We are almost losing a woman here. We’re trying to keep her alive.”
By Ed Payne
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