Dominic Garcia, who also witnessed the crash, told ABC News that when the plane hit the runway, he saw what appeared to be "a huge mushroom cloud."
"Within 15 seconds it was just black smoke," he said. "It looked like an explosion."
The Boeing 777 is one of the safest airplanes in use, ABC News aviation analyst John Nance said.
"These airplanes are over the water, over the ocean all the time and Asiana has been running them for many years very successfully," Nance said.
Boeing issued a statement to ABCNews.com on the news of the crash.
"Boeing extends its concern for the safety of those on board Asiana Airlines Flight 214," the company said. "Boeing is preparing to provide technical assistance to the National Transportation Safety Board as it investigates the accident."
The last Boeing 777 to crash was a British Airways jet en route from Beijing to London's Heathrow airport, which crash landed short of the runway in January 2008. There were no fatalities, but 47 people on board sustained injuries.
The plane was powered by Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines, according to a statement from the company's spokeswoman Pratt & Whitney.
Pratt & Whitney said it was cooperating with authorities, but declined to comment further.