(Photo: Ezra Shaw, Getty Images)
BEIJING - The two Chinese victims of the Asiana Flight 214 crash in San Francisco were identified Sunday as teenage schoolgirls in eastern China, headed to the USA for a two-week summer camp.
Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, both 16, were students at Jiangshan Middle School in Zhejiang province bordering Shanghai, reported China Central Television, citing a fax from Asiana Airlines to the Jiangshan city government. Their bodies were found outside the wreckage.
Of the 291 passengers on board, 141 were Chinese. At least 70 Chinese students and teachers were on the plane heading to summer camps, according to education authorities in China. Teacher Ye Lianjun told Chinese television that there were 34 people traveling in the Jiangshan Middle School group - five teachers and 29 students.
Earlier Sunday, Wang Linjia's father Wang Wensheng said in an interview with a Chinese TV station that he was "worried to death" about his daughter. Later, Zhejiang Online, an online news service, said its reporters witnessed the parents take a call confirming their daughter's death, then hug each other as they cried. Wang and his wife will travel to the U.S., China News Service reported.
Parents of Wang Linjia are comforted by parents of some other students who were on board Asiana Airlines Flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco International Airport. Chinese media have identified the two people who died in the crash as Ye Mengyuan and Wang Linjia, both 16.
Zhejiang Daily, a Chinese newspaper, described Wang Linjia on its micro-blog as the class monitor and representative for Chinese studies with a good academic record. Wang's mother told the paper Linjia was a close friend of Ye Mengyuan - the two were classmates - and she guessed the two girls sat side-by-side on the airplane.
Anxious parents gathered Sunday around the gate outside Jiangshan Middle School , said student Jiang Wenbin, 19.
"They are worried, and nervous, waiting for the news. They only have one kid in the family, so I understand them," Jiang said.
"One friend called me when he got off the plane, many of them are my good friends," he said before the two deaths were confirmed. "I am very worried about them, I wish them all safe."
The two victims' final postings on Chinese micro-blogging service Tencent Weibo drew interest.
On Friday, the day before the Jiangshan Middle Group departed Shanghai bound for San Francisco via Seoul, Wang Linjia wrote simply "Go", in English.
In another recent posting, she said the prospect of saying goodbye to old classmates left her overwhelmed by sadness. Wang often quoted from a modern fairy tale popular among young people for reflecting the joys and pain of growing up.
On Thursday, Ye Mengyuan, whose personal name, Mengyuan, means "dreams come true", made her final post - "444444." The number four is considered unlucky in Chinese as it sounds similar to the character for "death."
"I learned calligraphy with Wang Linjia before. I am worried about her, she's still missing," he said Sunday before the deaths were confirmed.
Jiangshan is a fairly prosperous city in one of China's most developed provinces, so the approximate cost of the U.S. trip - about 29,000 yuan, or about $4,700 - is increasingly within reach for many families.
Wang Renyuan joined a summer camp trip to the United Kingdom organized by Jiangshan High School last year.
"It was a nice journey, nothing unpleasant happened," he said. "I am not worried about taking another flight in the future."
China's state-run broadcaster led its evening newscast Sunday with a report that Chinese Communist Party chief and state President Xi Jinping is closely involved in dealing with the tragedy and has sent condolences to the families.
State media reported the Chinese consulate in San Francisco is assisting victims and people trying to contact passengers.
Contributing: Sunny Yang; The Associated Press