msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7 minutes ago
NEW YORK - A US Airways jetliner crashed into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after a flock of birds apparently disabled both its engines, but rescuers pulled the more than 150 passengers and crew members into boats before the plane sank.
After boats rushed to the rescue, the Federal Aviation Administration said that all passengers on US Airways Flight 1549 were off the plane and safe.
"We've had the miracle on 34th Street for some time and now I believe we've had a miracle on the Hudson," New York Gov. David Paterson said in a news conference Thursday evening.
"We do not believe there are any serious injuries," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, noting some passengers were taken to hospitals in New Jersey. "The pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and getting the passengers out."
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the flight had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, N.C., when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in New York City.
The plane, an Airbus 320, took off at 3:26 p.m. and went down minutes later, Brown said.
"There were eyewitness reports the plane may have flown into a flock of birds," Brown said. She added, "right now we don't have any indication this was anything other than an accident."
Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Union, said that the pilot reported a "double bird strike" about 30 to 45 seconds after takeoff and said he needed to return to LaGuardia.
The controller instructed the pilot to divert to an airport in Teterboro, N.J., for an emergency landing, Church said.
A passenger who identified himself as Jeff told NBC News the engines blew about 3 minutes into the flight. "Fire started blowing up," he said. "I thought we would be able to circle around, but the captain said 'brace for impact.' ... I think the captain did a helluva job."
The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows. Rescue crews opened the door and pulled passengers in yellow life vests from the plane. Rescue boats and commuter ferry boats that ply the Hudson surrounded the plane, which appeared to be slowly sinking in the near-freezing water. The temperature was around 20 degrees.