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US Airways Flight Crashes Into Hudson River


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Michele Norris


And I'm Melissa Block. There's a major rescue operation underway on the Hudson River near midtown Manhattan. A U.S. Airways plane crashed into the frigid water this afternoon. More than 150 people were on board Flight 1549 that took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport headed to Charlotte, North Carolina. New York firefighters are on the scene. Passengers have been seen on the wings of the aircraft being pulled on to ferryboats. There are reports the plane hit a flock of geese before it crashed into the water. For more on the situation, NPR's Mike Pesca joins us and Mike, what more can you tell us about what happened this afternoon?

MIKE PESCA: Well, there have been some conflicting numbers about how many people were on board but right now, people are saying that there were 146 passengers and five crew on board. The story about the flock of geese has been attributed to sources but an FAA spokesperson, Laura Brown, has said that it might have been geese. They said something showed up on the radar and birds do show up on radar, that's how sensitive radars are. Many eyewitnesses and there have been many eyewitnesses interviewed on all of the local news channels, they seem to describe a similar phenomenon. The eyewitnesses describe what seem to look to them as if these were an emergency landing as opposed to a freefall crash into the Hudson River. The plane - for the last 20 minutes has been, the local TV has been showing the plane, it is still - most of the plane is still floating above water and like you said, there have been reports and we have seen with our eyes through the TV, many passengers getting off the plane onto lifeboats and being rescued by ferries that have responded.

BLOCK: Are reports of injuries, Mike, of this on the plane.

PESCA: Right now, we don't know that. Twenty minutes - this flight was said to have taken off at 3:26, I believe, from LaGuardia Airport to Charlotte. And it was 20 minutes ago that I think the public became aware that it was in the water and since then we haven't had reports of injuries. But we do know that 20 minutes or so ago, there were six or seven boats surrounding the plane. Some of those boats, which include New York water taxis, not just official rescue boats, have moved away from the plane and right now, the plane, which is still in the water, is surrounded by four boats, one in each direction and then in the circumference larger than that, those four initial boats, there are more rescue boats that are in the vicinity.

BLOCK: Mike, can you tell if there still seem to be people standing on the wings of that aircraft waiting for rescue?

PESCA: I don't see that right now, and I'll tell you where my vantage point is. Right now, the New York bureau of National Public Radio is on 42nd Street. Many emergency responders were streaming west so we could see the Hudson docks, but not exactly the plane. So just going by TV images, I don't see anyone on the wings still, but we were seeing that a little while ago.

BLOCK: OK. Again, to recap, a U.S. Airways flight taking off from LaGuardia airport in New York headed for Charlotte, Flight 1549 has landed in the Hudson River; a rescue effort is underway from watercraft on the Hudson to rescue about 150 people on board that plane. We've been talking with NPR's Mike Pesca in New York and we'll being you more on this story throughout the program. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent for NPR based in New York City.
As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.