The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco, airport officials said. The airline said there were 16 crew members aboard and 291 passengers. Thirty of the passengers were children.
San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White said 19 people remain hospitalized, six of them in critical condition.
She said at a news conference outside San Francisco General Hospital the two 16-year-old girls who died were found on either side of the plane near the “front middle.” Investigators are determining whether they were alive or dead when rescuers reached the scene.
Hayes-White said first responders told her they saw people at the edge of the bay dousing themselves with water, possibly to cool burn injuries.
San Francisco General Hospital Chief of Surgery Margaret Knudson said at least two people injured that were treated there are paralyzed and two others suffered road rash-type injuries suggesting they were dragged.
She said doctors at the hospital have also seen abdominal and orthopedic injuries and head trauma. Patients with severe abdominal injuries and spinal fractures appear to have suffered them from being thrown forward and back while restrained by seat belts.
South Korean government said the passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 61 Americans, three Canadians, three from India, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one from France, while the nationalities of the remaining three haven’t been confirmed.
Chinese state media identified the dead as two 16-year-old girls from China’s eastern Zhejiang province. China Central Television cited a fax from Asiana Airlines to the Jiangshan city government. They were identified as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia.
At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China.
Asiana President Yoon Young-doo said at a televised news conference that it will take time to determine the cause of the crash. But when asked about the possibility of engine or mechanical problems, he said he doesn’t believe they could have been the cause.