Diplomat consoles crash survivors

Updated: 2013-07-12 07:26

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily)

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About 70 students who survived the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landing in San Francisco on Saturday gathered on Wednesday in the city's Chinese consulate-general, where they were encouraged to stay brave and strong.

At a dinner hosted by Consul-General Yuan Nansheng, Yuan said he was sad that the two high school girls who were killed in the accident could not be there.

He said he hoped the students in attendance will regard the consulate-general as their home in the United States.

Eighty of the 138 Chinese passengers had made arrangements to stay at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near San Francisco International Airport. The rest have already left the city.

Yuan and the families of the two deceased girls met representatives of the San Mateo Coroner's Office immediately after the families' arrival. Several officials from the consulate-general accompanied the others to visit their injured relatives at San Francisco General Hospital.

Family members of other Chinese passengers involved in the crash left for the US on Thursday as they had previously requested, and others will depart China on Friday, said Moon Myung-young, managing director and head of the China Office of Asiana Airlines, CCTV reported.

Chinese passengers will begin to return to China on July 18, Moon added.

The South Korean airline will open reception centers in Shanghai and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, to handle issues related to the crash.

The airline's Chinese branch also urged the company's headquarters in Seoul to work out compensation plans before the Chinese passengers return, Moon added.

With the assistance of the consulate-general in San Francisco, Chinese students who survived the crash talked with their families back in China through video on Tuesday.

Li Lijia, 16, one of the students who was injured, said she was sleeping during the landing before she smelled smoke in the plane. She said the emergency slide wasn't working before she jumped off the aircraft. The girl is now hospitalized in Stanford, California.

At a news conference on Wednesday, the US National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot of the Boeing 777 told attendants not to begin passenger evacuation in the chaotic immediate aftermath of the accident.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said the pilots didn't tell flight attendants to initiate evacuation procedures until after cabin staff alerted the cockpit to flames spreading outside the plane.

Zhao Yanrong in Beijing contributed to this story.


(China Daily 07/12/2013 page12)