Slow landing speed factor in Boeing 777 crash

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July 8, 2013, 6:40 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Danielle Leigh) - One runway remains closed Monday morning at the San Francisco International Airport. Investigators say low air speed was a contributing factor to the weekend Asiana Airlines crash that left two dead and dozens critically injured.

Wreckage from the plane is sitting on the runway way this morning and is a stark reminder of the chaos late Saturday morning.

Investigators will go through the debris piece by piece on Monday.

Meanwhile, the plane's black box recording is already offering clues about what went wrong. Amidst the charred remains of Asiana flight 2-14, investigators have obtained what may be one of their greatest clues. They say the black box voice recording from inside the cockpit captures crews calling for increased speed just seven seconds before the crash.

One-and-a-half seconds before impact, the crew unsuccessfully tried to abort the landing.

"The approach speed was 137 knots. I will tell you the speed was significantly below 137 knots--and we're not talking about a few knots," said NTSB Chairman Debbie Hersman.

The National Transportation Safety Board will continue to analyze the damage strewn along runway 28 left of the San Francisco International Airport.

The Boeing 777 was ending a more than 10-hour flight from Seoul, South Korea when witnesses say the plane's tail hit the seawall just beyond the runway and broke off.

Survivors are still haunted by those terrifying moments.

"You know, I thought I was dying, that was the moment," said passenger Eugene Rah.

Two 16-year-old girls from China were thrown from the plane and killed.

More than a dozen survivors remain hospitalized. Doctors say several are in critical condition.

"The most serious injuries were the combination of abdominal injuries, spine injuries, head injuries, injuries to their extremeties," said Dr. Geoffrey Manley with the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery.

Ben Levy is among the dozens of survivors who walked away with minor injuries.

“My injures are bruised ribs and torn ligaments inside," he said.

Levy considers himself lucky after a harrowing flight where doctors say it’s a miracle so many survived.

Tags: California, South Korea, FAA, Seoul, NTSB, san francisco, national transportation safety board, federal aviation administration, Boeing 777, San Francisco International Airport, Flight 214, Asiana Airlines
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