- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

UPDATED:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says police divers had to rescue some passengers from underwater after a jetliner carrying 155 people crashed in the Hudson River.

Mr. Bloomberg says he has spoken with the pilot and a passenger who claimed to be the last one off the plane. All passengers survived.

The mayor said, “It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river, and then making sure everybody got out.”

Mr. Bloomberg says most of the rescued were picked up right away and put on police, Coast Guard and ferry boats. He says divers pulled a few passengers from underwater.

Flight 1549 went down minutes after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport for Charlotte, N.C., splashing into the river near midtown Manhattan.

A US Airways plane crashed into the frigid Hudson River on Thursday afternoon after striking a bird that disabled two engines, sending 148 on board scrambling onto rescue boats, authorities say. No deaths or serious injuries were immediately reported.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says the US Airways Flight 1549 had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport enroute to Charlotte, N.C., when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in midtown Manhattan.

Brown says the plane, an Airbus 320, appears to have hit one or more birds.

A law enforcement official said that authorities are not aware of any deaths and that the passengers do not appear to be seriously injured. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the rescue was still under way.

The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows. Rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane. Several boats surrounded the plane, which appeared to be slowly sinking.

Government officials do not believe the crash is related to terrorism.

“There is no information at this time to indicate that this is a security-related incident,” Homeland Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. “We continue to closely monitor the situation which at present is focused on search and rescue.”

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 U.S. Coast Guard are responding to the crash.

“I saw what appeared to be a tail fin of a plane sticking out of the water,” said Erica Schietinger, whose office windows at Chelsea Piers look out over the Hudson. “All the boats have sort of circled the area.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the crash and the airplane, which remained intact after the crash landing and was towed from the river.

Doug Parker, chairman and CEO of U.S. Airways, said in a press conference that “everyone is off the plane and accounted for.”

He said, “It would be premature to speculate about the cause of the accident. The NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the probable cause and they have our complete support.”

The White House released this statement from President Bush about the incident:

“My Administration is coordinating with State and local officials to respond to this afternoon’s plane crash in New York City. We continue to monitor the situation. Laura and I are inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew as well as the dedication and selflessness of the emergency responders and volunteers who rescued passengers from the icy waters of the Hudson. We send our thoughts and prayers to all involved in the accident.”

Associated Press Writer Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report. David B. Caruso contributed from New York. Washington Times reporter Audrey Hudson contributed from Washington.


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