US Airways plane to NC crashes into Hudson River
NEW YORK (AP) -- A US Airways jetliner crashed into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after a collision with a flock of birds disabled both its engines, sending more than 150 passengers and crew members scrambling onto rescue boats, authorities say. No deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported.
Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said Flight 1549 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, N.C., when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in midtown Manhattan.
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."
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 ferry boats that ply the Hudson surrounded the plane, which appeared to be slowly sinking in the near-freezing water on one of the coldest days of the year, with a temperature around 20 degrees.
Witnesses said the plane's pilot appeared to guide the plane down.
"I see a commercial airliner coming down, looking like it's landing right in the water," said Bob Read, who saw it from his office at the television newsmagazine "Inside Edition." 'This looked like a controlled descent."
New York City firefighters and the Coast Guard worked to rescue the passengers. The fuselage appeared intact, and the plane appeared to be sitting high in the water well after the crash with rescuers standing on the wings once they reached the site.
"I saw what appeared to be a tail fin of a plane sticking out of the water," said Erica Schietinger, whose office windows look out over the Hudson. "All the boats have sort of circled the area."
Joe Mazzone, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot, said it is not unusual for birds to strike planes. In fact, he said, when planes get ready to take off, if there are birds in the area, the tower will alert the crew.
"They literally just choke out the engine and it quits," Mazzone said.