A third girl, reportedly Chinese, died on Friday of injuries sustained in the Asiana jet crash in San Francisco, as authorities confirmed that a firetruck ran over one of the other victims.
Two female Chinese teenagers died on July 6 when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport, with the accident leaving more than 180 injured. The third victim had been in critical condition and died early on Friday, San Francisco General Hospital said in a statement, adding that the family had asked further details to be withheld.
Xinhua news agency, citing the hospital, described the victim as a female Chinese student.
The third death was confirmed shortly after San Francisco police said that one of the teenagers who died in the crash “had been run over at least one time by a fire truck.”
Police spokesman Albie Esparza said it is not yet clear whether the teen was already dead.
Firefighters, who raced to the scene shortly after the crash to help douse the flames blazing from the aircraft, had earlier told police of the “possibility” that one of their trucks had run someone over.
The police investigation concluded that the accident occurred because firefighters had sprayed the immediate ground area with white foam, used as a flame retardant, Esparza said.
“It’s believed that the victim was on the ground, covered and not seen by anybody,” he added. “So when the fire truck moved to reposition itself, that is when the body of the victim was discovered lying in the track of the fire truck.”
Authorities are still conducting an autopsy to determine cause of death, Esparza added. The coroner’s office could not immediately confirm when final autopsy results will be available.
Of the others who were injured when the plane crashed, two adults remain in critical condition, SFGH said, adding that the hospital is still caring for three other adults and a child.
According to preliminary findings from a US transport safety agency probe, the plane crashed because it was flying too low and too slowly as it approached the runway.
The tail of the aircraft broke off as the plane clipped a seawall short of the runway, skidding out of control and quickly catching fire.
The airplane pilot, 46-year-old Lee Kang-kuk, was an experienced aviator, but was undergoing his first major training on the Boeing 777, and it was his co-pilot’s first time working as instructor.
The US National Transportation Safety Board has said analysis of cockpit voice recorders showed the pilots made no mention of the too-slow speed during the plane’s doomed approach until it was 30.5m from the ground.
The NTSB had previously revealed the plane’s speed had dipped to 103 knots (191kph) three seconds before the crash — sharply below the target landing speed of 137 knots at the threshold of the runway.
Asiana Flight 214, from Shanghai, with a stop in Seoul, had 307 people on board, including 16 crew members, and 123 escaped unharmed.