Asiana crash: Many survivors paralysed; suffer head, internal wounds

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Doctors at a San Franscisco hospital said Sunday the most severely injured from a Asiana Airlines plane crash a day earlier are paralysed, unconscious or dealing with serious abdominal bleeding.

Two teenage girls from China were killed and 182 people were injured - including more than 40 seriously - when the Boeing 777 crashed while landing at San Francisco's international airport.

Many of the most critical cases were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors saw "large amounts of abdominal injuries, a huge amount of spine fracture, some of which include paralysis, and head trauma and multiple type of orthopedic injuries," Margaret Knudson, interim surgery chief at the hospital, said.

Two patients "had severe road rash, suggesting they were dragged. Not sure if those patients were outside of the plane and this is what happened to them but both of those patients are alive," she told reporters at a press conference.

All of the patients who were able to speak told doctors they had been sitting in the back of the jet, where the tail broke off, as the plane smashed into the end of the runway, Knudson said.

Not everyone has regained consciousness, she added.

"Of the patients in the hospital, 15, 16," are still unconscious, she said, saying the most critical cases are the ones with head trauma or with major abdominal bleeding.

"Some of our patients have been operated on twice already, and there's going to be many many more surgeries to come still." But the surgeon said the hospital had expected to see major burn injuries, which did not appear.

Flight 214 originated in Shanghai, and had 307 people on board - 291 passengers and 16 crew - after it stopped to pick up passengers in Seoul. The aircraft apparently struck a rocky area at the water's edge short of the airport runway.

The crash sheared off the plane's landing gear and tore the tail off the fuselage. Large portions of the plane's body were burned out in the fire that then erupted.

US investigators were combing through the wreckage on Sunday, trying to determine the cause of the crash.

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