Nightly News   |  July 08, 2013

Cockpit voice recorder reveals final moments before crash

Witnesses said the tail of Asiana flight 214 hit the seawall beyond the end of the runway. The rest of the fuselage slammed down on the pavement, breaking off a piece of the landing gear. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> survivors, thankfully, many of them. we also hear from the first responders tonight. that part of the story from john yang in san francisco .

>> reporter: when first responders arrived on the scene at runway 28 left, the threat was clear.

>> jet fuel leaking out of the plane, and our firefighters entered the plane, began a primary search and began to distinguish the fire.

>> christie emmonds ran up the eva evacuation chute and saw people trapped.

>> it was clear. not a lot of smoke, not a lot of fire, but by the time we removed the final victim, the fire was banking down on us, heavy black smoke .

>> reporter: police officer jim cunningham had no protective gear and still rushed in.

>> clearing the baggage, over head bins and all of the luggage, debris and rubble all over the place.

>> one of the last on the plane, a flight attendant attending to the remaining survivors.

>> get down, get down.

>> reporter: the first responders managed to get few stranded on board to safety. only a few, tharngs to passengers like ben levy who saw rescuers arrive as he helped other people escape.

>> i told people we're okay, come down, start getting out. leave your things behind, help each other, quickly. a lot of people started going out through the door.

>> reporter: today in china the distraught families of the two 16-year-old girls killed in the crash left shanghai for the united states . while in korea, survivors of the crash returned home to begin long and painful recoveries. in san francisco , the focus on men and women who answered the call to duty.

>> only calvary that was there. no one else coming right away. whatever we could do, we had to do it.

>> reporter: risking so much to help so many survive. john yang , nbc news, san francisco .