Passenger Jet crashes in Hudson River

January 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Gov't official says 'bird strike' cause of crash.The FAA says all passengers are safe after a US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson River.

Individuals who believe they may have family members on board flight 1549 may call US Airways at 1-800-679-8215 within the United States.

The plane is an Airbus 320, US Airways flight 1549 from LaGuardia to Charlotte. There were 148 passengers on board the flight, along with 5 crew members. The FAA is reporting all passengers are out of the plane, and a secondary search is underway.

"TSA is monitoring the situation involving US Airways flight 1549. At this point, there is no indication that this is a security-related incident. TSA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates if appropriate."

The plane went down near 48th Street. The plane took off from LaGuardia at 3:26 p.m.

Government officials say the plane's two engines went down after a flock of birds struck the plane. Witnesses say it appeared the plane made a controlled landing. "It was just unbelievable how this plane landed," said one witness.

ABC News has learned 30 seconds after the pilot was handed off from the tower to the next controllers he reported two bird strikes and he wanted to return to LaGuardia. "You never prepare for anything like this," said one survivor.

The plane, which was over New Jersey at the time, was ordered to return to LaGuardia. The pilot saw Teterboro airport outside of the plane, but obviously never made it.

According to authorities, the Airbus pilot was in communication with the tower, reported that he was having trouble controlling the plane, then looped around once, giving the passengers Ltime to prepare for the impact" senior airport police official said. He then 'went off the radar" and put the plane down on the river.

One witness says he saw flames coming from the number one engine Ferries rescued passengers, some who were seen standing on the wings of the plane.

An emergency room doctor from St. Vincent's told Eyewitness News about the rescued air passengers.

"It's a bad day to have this happen. much like the DC crash in the 1980's this is a bad combination of cold air, cold water and wind." He said.

Because of the crash all ferry service is suspended between their 39th terminal in NYC and their Weehawken terminal, across the river in NJ.

"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."

The plane was submerged in the icy waters up to the windows, and rescue crews had opened the door and were pulling passengers in yellow life vests from the plane. The plane was quickly submerged about 30 minutes after the crash.

Twenty-seven years ago this week, an Air Florida plane bound for Tampa crashed into the Potomac River after hitting a bridge just after takeoff from Washington National Airport. The crash on Jan. 13, 1982, killed 78 people including four people in their cars on the bridge. Five people on the plane survived.

On Dec. 20, a Continental Airlines plane veered off a runway and slid into a snowy field at the Denver airport, injuring 38 people. That was the first major crash of a commercial airliner in the United States since Aug. 27, 2006, when 49 people were killed after a Comair jetliner mistakenly took off from the wrong runway in Lexington, Ky.

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