Fatal crash extends stranding for Kiwi travellers

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 08/07/2013
plane crash
REUTERS

AIRPORT STALLS: Asiana Airlines flight 214 burns on the runway at San Francisco International Airport after crash-landing on Saturday.

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Kiwi travellers found themselves stranded in San Francisco for two straight days after the fatal crash of a Korean plane put much of the city's airport out of commission.

Allan Mouat, from Havelock North, was one of about 300 people preparing to board an Air New Zealand flight from San Francisco International Airport to Auckland yesterday morning when the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crashed on approach, killing at least two people and injuring dozens more.

The airport was immediately closed and the Air NZ flight was cancelled. It was a further blow to many of those on that flight, as it had already been delayed the night before because of mechanical problems.

Mr Mouat did not see the crash because it happened near a different terminal. "I actually found out about it on the internet before they told us at the gate. You could see fire trucks and that racing around . . . but it seemed like it was all happening some distance away.

"Everybody was pretty calm. When it finally got announced [30 minutes later], people were pretty solemn. It's not a nice feeling to know something like that has happened."

Mr Mouat, like many of those on the flight, had booked connecting flights from Auckland. Air NZ was doing a good job of looking after the stranded travellers and finding them temporary accommodation, he said.

"Most people have been pretty good considering the situation. No-one is throwing a hissy fit, as far as I've seen."

Dominion Post racing editor Tim Barton, who was also meant to be on the flight, said it was surprising how little panic or concern there was at the airport just after the crash.

"We didn't see any action at all for quite some time. At one stage, a bunch of medics came rushing through the gate area and there were quite a few ambulances lined up outside. But there wasn't any sort of immediate chaos outside the windows to indicate there had been a crash."

He ended up having to spend three days in the same clothes because he was not able to get his luggage back after the first flight delay.

But he said most people were being understanding about their plight. "A couple of people lost their lives, so people are being pretty reasonable."

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- The Dominion Post

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