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Emergency calls reveal chaos, long waits in aftermath of Asiana crash

Passengers evacuate the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft after a crash landing at San Francisco International Airport in California July
Passengers evacuate the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft after a crash landing at San Francisco International Airport in California July

By Kristina Cooke and Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tapes of 911 emergency calls made moments after the Asiana plane crash at San Francisco airport last Saturday reveal panic and confusion, with passengers describing severe injuries and long waits for help.

The California Highway Patrol released 11 minutes of call audio tapes late on Wednesday. The crash of the Boeing 777 killed two and injured more than 180.

A man called to say, "Our airplane just crashed upon landing." The dispatcher asked which runway he was on.

"I don't know the runway, we literally just ran out of the airplane."

The call to evacuate the plane was made 90 seconds after the crash, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman said on Wednesday, and the first emergency response vehicles arrived 30 seconds later.

Yet some callers reported no help until much later.

One woman called to say she had been on the ground for 20 or 30 minutes without seeing an ambulance.

"There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We are almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive . ... Not one ambulance here on the tarmac," she said.

Another caller said a woman on the runway was "pretty much burned, very severely on the head, and we don't know what to do.

"She is severely burned, she will probably die soon if she doesn't get help," the female caller said. "Is there any way we can assist her?"

A third woman said she was "on the outskirts ... on the field where the planes are landing.

"We have people over here who weren't found," she said, describing her position as "on the outskirts...out on the field where planes are landing."

To one caller, who said he had yet to see a fire truck, the dispatcher said: "We are responding, trust me."

Another, near the end of his call, said he now saw "tons of cops and ambulances coming."

(Reporting by Kristina Cooke and Sarah McBride in San Francisco; Editing by Xavier Briand)

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