NEW YORK - A US Airways plane crashed into the frigid waters of the Hudson River Thursday, and officials are crediting the pilot?s ?masterful? emergency landing and a quick response by rescue crews for the survival of everyone on board.
Flight 1549 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport en route to Charlotte, N.C., when the plane was hit by a flock of geese and crashed near Manhattan?s 48th Street.
With all 150 passengers and five crew members safely brought to land after the plane dived into 42-degree waters, Gov. David Paterson called the incident "a miracle on the Hudson."
"This is really a potential tragedy that may have become one of the most spectacular days in the history of New York City's agencies, it's coordination and the greatness of the people that work here and all they did for those passengers who are now tonight going home to their families," Paterson said.
Federal Aviation Administration officials say the passengers and crew members were taken to area hospitals. The New York City Fire Department says 78 people were injured, but the extent of the injuries wasn't immediately known.
The Airbus 320 took off at 3:26 p.m. and went down minutes later in the near-freezing water on one of the coldest days of the year, with a temperature around 20 degrees.
Passenger Jeff Kolodjay, of Norwalk, Conn., says he heard an explosion several minutes into the flight and saw an engine on fire. He says the pilot made an announcement to "brace for impact."
A government official says two engines of the plane were disabled by a bird strike.
The FBI says there is no information to suggest that the plane crash was an act of terrorism.
An air-traffic controllers? union official says the pilot, identified as Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger IIIof Danville, Calif., reported a "double bird strike" less than a minute after takeoff and asked to return to the ground.
As the controller began to turn the aircraft, the pilot radioed that he saw Teterboro Airport in New Jersey below him and asked to land there. The last transmission was the controller's order to divert to New Jersey for an emergency landing.
Water taxis and ferries near the site came to the aid of the crash victims. Crews from the Circle Line Ferry also helped in the rescue of passengers.
All ferry service is suspended until further notice as a result of the crash.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the pilot made a ?masterful? landing. He said police divers rescued a few people from the water, while others were able to walk onto the wings and then onto rescue boats.
Anyone who believes a family member may have been on Flight 1549 can call US Airways at 1-800-679-8215. Friends and family members looking for loved ones who were on the flight can go to the Crowne Plaza in Queens on Ditmars Boulevard.
The cause of the crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
AP wires contributed to this report.
Chopper 12 footage of plane crash site
Extended footage of Mayor Bloomberg?s news conference
Air traffic control map of Flight 1549?s path
U.S. Airways Press Release on Flight 1549FAAFlightAware- Flight TrackerNYWaterway