The twin jet plane en route to Denver from Hong Kong is merely a green radar blip half an hour off the California coast when the call comes through to air traffic control:
'Socal Approach, this is TransPacific 545. We have an emergency.' The pilot requests priority clearance to land - then comes the bombshell - he needs forty ambulances on the runway.
But nothing prepares the rescue workers for the carnage they witness when they enter the plane.
Ninety-four passengers are injured. Three dead. The interior cabin virtually destroyed.