SAN FRANCISCO -- Stunned and bleeding after a Boeing 777 crash-landed at the San Francisco airport, hundreds of passengers staggered across the debris-strewn tarmac, some trying to help the critically injured, others desperately calling 911 and begging for more ambulances as minutes ticked away.
"There's not enough medics out here," a caller told a dispatcher in a 911 call released by the California Highway Patrol. "There is a woman out here on the street, on the runway, who is pretty much burned very severely on the head and we don't know what to do."
Two people died and 180 of the 307 passengers were injured Saturday when Asiana Airlines Flight 214 slammed into a seawall at the end of the runway. Authorities said the landing gear hit first, followed by the tail. The impact ripped off the back of the plane, tossing three flight attendants and their seats onto the runway.
The passengers, some with broken bones, were told over the jet's public-address system to stay in their seats for another 90 seconds while the cockpit consulted with the control tower, a safety procedure to prevent people from evacuating into life-threatening fires or machinery.
"We don't know what the pilots were thinking, but I can tell you that in previous accidents there have been crews that don't evacuate. They wait for other vehicles to come, to be able to get passengers out safely," said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman.
In this accident, it appears one of the two Chinese teens who died may have been run over by a fire truck rushing to the burning jet.
The 911 tapes recorded frantic callers, pleading for help.
"We've been on the ground, I don't know, 20 minutes, a half-hour," said one woman. "There are people laying on the tarmac with critical injuries, head injuries. We're almost losing a woman here. We're trying to keep her alive."
San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said some passengers may not have immediately seen ambulances at the scene because they were dispatched to a nearby staging area as first responders assessed who needed to be taken to the hospital.
"There is a procedure for doing it," she said. "You don't cause more chaos in an already chaotic situation. You don't do that with 50 ambulances running around all over the place."