Courtesy of www.nytimes.com
SEOUL, South Korea — An Asiana Airlines cargo plane crashed into waters off the southern coast of South Korea on Thursday after reporting a fire in its cargo compartments, government officials said.
A pilot seat, wing tip and other parts of the wreckage were recovered by maritime patrol boats about 70 miles west of Jeju, the southernmost island off South Korea, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said in a statement. The maritime police were searching the sea for the plane’s two-man crew — the pilot and co-pilot — whose fate remained unknown.
The Boeing B747-400F jet took off from the Incheon airport west of Seoul at 3:05 a.m. on Thursday, bound for Pudong, China. It was carrying 58 tons of electronic and machine parts, including batteries, paint and other chemicals considered inflammable, the ministry said. In its last communication with the Shanghai air traffic control center at 4:03 a.m., it reported a fire in its cargo, Kim Han-young, a senior ministry official in charges of air transport policy, said during a news briefing. The jet is believed to have crashed nine minutes later, as it turned around and was headed for an emergency landing in the Jeju airport, Mr. Kim said.
It was the worst accident for Asiana since one of its domestic passenger jets slammed into a hill in southwestern South Korea in 1993, killing 68 people.