Asiana apologises over deadly jet crash

SEOUL - Asiana Airlines on Sunday apologised over the deadly jet crash that killed at least two people and injured more than 180 others in San Francisco over the weekend.

The Boeing 777 passenger jet traveling from Seoul crashed while landing Saturday at San Francisco International Airport, smashed into pieces and caught fire.

"I sincerely apologise to the public for the crash landing," Asiana Airlines CEO Yoon Young-doo said Sunday during a press conference at the company's headquarters in western Seoul. "We will speed up efforts to address the crisis."

According to Yoon, the two victims are Chinese girls who were born in 1996 and 1997. They are believed to have been sitting in the rear part of the jet, he said.

The CEO also said that the four pilots on board are veterans who have travelled for almost 10,000 hours or more. He added no engine issue has occurred since the flight was introduced in 2006.

In a separate briefing on Sunday, Korea's Transport Ministry said the aircraft's fuselage appeared to have hit the ground, sending the plane off the runway and causing massive damage to the body.

For Asiana Airlines, the nation's second-largest airline and a flagship unit of Kumho Asiana Group, it was the third deadly jet crash in its 25-year history.

In 1993, an Asiana domestic flight crashed near Korea's Mokpo Airport, killing 68 of its 116 occupants. The Boeing 733 went down in poor weather as the plane was attempting its third landing.

In July 2011, a 747 cargo jet bound for Shanghai slammed into the sea off Jeju Island. Two pilots were killed in the crash, which was blamed on mechanical problems.

Asiana started its first international flights in 1990 to Japan. The airliner poured more resources into short-distance routes, especially to China, as the longer routes to the United States and Europe had been largely dominated by the market leader Korean Air.

Due to the efforts, Asiana is a big name in China even though it currently operates only six routes to US cities, including Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

The flight that crashed Saturday originated in Shanghai. Of the 291 passengers, 77 were Korean nationals, 141 Chinese, 61 American and one Japanese. They also included transit passengers embarking at Incheon Airport.

Asiana is a member of the Star Alliance network with 91 international passenger routes, 28 cargo routes and 14 domestic routes. It operates 80 aircraft, 12 of which are the Boeing 777.