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US Airways Plane Crashes Into Hudson River

BY Admin  January 15, 2009 at 5:15 PM EST

US Airways plane in Hudson River

The Federal Aviation Administration said all passengers and crew on the aircraft are off the plane and safe, according to the Associated Press.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told media outlets that US Airways flight 1549 had just taken off when the crash occurred in the river near 48th Street in midtown Manhattan.

Brown said the plane, an Airbus 320, may have collided with birds, impacting its engine function.

Television reports showed the plane nearly submerged in the Hudson River, circled by local passenger ferries and emergency vessels. The craft was carrying 146 passengers and 5 crew members, the New York Times reported.

Police divers were dropped into the water from helicopters to help rescue passengers, according to the Times. The U.S. Coast Guard was also responding to the scene.

Rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane, according to media reports.

Eyewitnesses told news agencies the plane had a controlled descent. The pilot was apparently trying to return to the airport when the plane fell into the Hudson.

A passenger on the plane who survived the crash told CNN it was a “near-death experience” that he was lucky to survive.

Another passenger described the event to Reuters.

“The engine blew. There was fire everywhere and it smelled like gas,” passenger Jeff Kolodjay said. “People were bleeding all over. We hit the water pretty hard. It was scary.”

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 told the AP. “We continue to closely monitor the situation which at present is focused on search and rescue.”