At least one person has died and up to 30 have been injured when a South Korean airliner carrying over 300 people crashed at San Francisco airport in the US.

The Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 with 291 passengers and 16 crew on board burst into flames shortly after landing from Seoul. 

Pictures taken immediately after the crash showed passengers streaming off the plane.

TV footage from the air later showed the badly damaged fuselage of the aircraft blackened by fire.

A spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital said 10 critically injured people had been taken there, including two children, six women and four men.

Ying Kong, of Albany, New York, who was waiting at the airport for her brother-in-law, Fawen Yan, 47, from Richmond, California, said he telephoned her after surviving the crash to say it had been "really smoky and scary."

Air traffic at the airport was halted after the crash, which took place under sunny skies with only a slight breeze.

Television pictures showed the plane lost its tail in the crash.

"You heard a pop and you immediately saw a large, brief fireball that came out from underneath the aircraft," Anthony Castorani, who witnessed the crash from a nearby hotel, said on CNN.

Investigations have begun to determine the cause of the accident.