NTSB chief Hersman: San Francisco crash could have been much worse

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman Deborah Hersman on Sunday said investigators were in the initial stages of their probe into the deadly crash of a Boeing 777 at San Francisco International Airport and said they were thankful the disaster was not worse.

"I think when we look at this accident we're very thankful that we didn't have more fatalities and serious injuries and we have so many survivors," Hersman said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Really, very very good news as far as survivable accidents, which many accidents are."

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Asiana Airlines flight 214 out of Seoul, South Korea crashed while landing in San Francisco on Saturday. Officials said there were two fatalities with 182 people injured, many critically. 

Hersman said that investigators planned to speak with the flight’s pilot soon.

"We have not yet talked to the pilot; we hope to do that in the coming days," Hersman said in a separate interview on ABC's "This Week." 

"We have obtained the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, and they have been sent back to our labs in Washington.  We hope that there is good data, good information on those, and we’ll audition them today back at headquarters," she added.

The NTSB chairwoman stressed that it was very early in the investigation process and declined to speculate about the cause of the accident.

"It's really very early in the investigation," Hersman added. "We just arrived on scene a few hours ago. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have teams that will be looking at aircraft operations, at human performance, survival factors, and we'll be looking at the aircraft. We'll be looking at power plants, systems and structures. And so we really want to make sure we have a good understanding of the facts before we reach any conclusions."

President Obama was informed of the crash by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco Saturday evening. The White House said he would continue to receive updates on the crash as more information became available. 

"His thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost a loved one and all those affected by the crash," the White House said.


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