A San Francisco Bay Area television station and the US National Transportation Safety Board apologised after the station reported bogus names for the pilots on board the Asiana Airlines flight that crashed last week based on information from a summer intern at the board.
"The NTSB has confirmed these are the names of the pilots on board Flight 214 when it crashed," Tori Campbell, an anchor for Fox affiliate KTVU, said on its noon bulletin, citing the safety board, which is investigating the crash.
But the names she read were prank names, which appeared to mock the events of the crash. The names were: Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.
Campbell later came back in the same newscast and told viewers the names "were not accurate despite an NTSB official in Washington confirming them late this morning. We apologise."
The safety board released a statement apologising "for inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed as those of the pilots of Asiana Flight 214". The station said it had made mistakes. "First, we never read the names out loud, phonetically sounding them out," it said.
Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for the NTSB, said the intern was a student volunteering his time who answered phones but was supposed to pass on questions to official media representatives at the agency.
She declined to say if the intern was fired, but the NTSB said in its statement that “appropriate actions will be taken to ensure that such a serious error is not repeated.”
It was unclear how KTVU obtained the list of names before reaching out to the NTSB for confirmation. The general manager and the news director at the station did not return emails seeking comment.
The names of the actual Asiana Airlines pilots in the cockpit of the plane were released earlier in the week as Lee Kang-kook and co-pilot Lee Jeong-min.
The New York Times, Reuters