Cheers for the heroes

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Cheers for the heroes

Despite the crash landing of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport, the accident was nevertheless a small miracle in aviation history. Only two of the 307 people on board the Boeing 777 died in the July 6 crash after the jet’s tail hit the ground, broke off and the body caught fire. A larger tragedy was avoided thanks to the fast and calm action of flight attendants and passengers.

It’s human instinct to run for one’s life in the face of disaster. Those onboard had to flee the airplane split seconds before fire, smoke and a possible explosion would kill them.

But the Asiana crew unhesitatingly risked their lives to fulfil their role by putting their rigorous emergency training into action. They hustled passengers to emergency exits and gutted the hull before it went fully ablaze.

According to testimonies from travelers and firefighters, the crew members cut off seat belts with knives they obtained from the police and helped them out. A flight attendant carried a 12-year-old with an injured leg on her back and ran for 500 meters (547 yards) to reach medical help. Others held frightened children in their arms down the emergency slide. Despite her injury, Lee Yoon-hye, cabin manager, managed to escape the plane only after she made sure everyone was off.

Such heroic efforts from the crew helped to save Asiana’s reputation. One surviving passenger told the press that he could not forget the scene of a small woman running around carrying people on her back. The flight attendants had tears streaming down their face, but were exceptionally calm in aiding passengers to evacuate, he said. Some experts called the Asiana case a phenomenal survival accident that would serve as a model for the aviation industry. Rigid emergency training and professionalism as well as strong mentality all contributed to make the miracle possible.

Recognition also goes to passenger Benjamin Levy, a technology executive in San Francisco who was returning home from a business trip in Asia. He calmed and helped more than 50 people to get off the plane even though he hurt his rib during the crash landing. He said he only did what he promised to do when he got the spacious seat next to the exit door, which is usually reserved for those who offer to help flight attendants in case of an accident.

In fact, everyone on board the jet should be complimented for their bravery and calmness amid the chaos. Passengers all said the scene in the cabin was chaotic but not panicked. There was no pushing and everyone helped one another evacuate. They all helped make the survival story of Asiana Flight 214.
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