Paterson Lauds 'Miracle On The Hudson'

New York Gov. David Paterson described as the "miracle on the Hudson" the rescue of more than 150 people aboard US Airways Flight 1549, which went down in the Hudson River. Both he and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the aircraft's pilot.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a news conference early this evening alongside the governor, David Paterson. Here's some of what the mayor had to say.

Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York): It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out. I had a long conversation with the pilot. He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off and tried to verify that there was nobody else onboard and assures us there were not. I also talked to a passenger who said he was the last one up the aisle and that he made sure there was nobody behind him.

BLOCK: NPR's Margot Adler joins us now from New York. And Margot, tell us more about what the mayor had to say in this news conference today.

MARGOT ADLER: Well, that description of the pilot was certainly the most interesting new piece of information. In general, I would say that Mayor Bloomberg was extremely careful. He kept on saying, we believe, we think. He didn't want any speculation. So he would say, we believe that everyone is, you know, out. We believe that there are 150 plus crew. He would, for example, not speculate on birds hitting the engine, which has been talked about by a lot that a flock of birds may have disabled one or two engines. He would not speculate on that.

BLOCK: And apparently there was communication from the pilot to air traffic control that he was reporting a double bird strike. Margot, what can you tell us about injuries among these passengers after this remarkable rescue and landing?

ADLER: Well, passengers were taken to several different hospitals, some of them in New York and some of them in New Jersey. And we don't actually know everything. There have been reports that at least seven people were treated for hypothermia at St. Luke's Hospital, that at least 10 people were treated for similar injuries at St. Vincent's. There was a report that one flight attendant was being treated for a fracture. But one of the things that everyone said was that's remarkable is it looks like none of the injuries so far - again we don't know everything - but none of the injuries seem to be life threatening.

BLOCK: Quite extraordinary and quite a performance by this flight crew, clearly. Margot, there were, as we've heard, images for quite some time of this plane floating - at least most of the plane floating - on the surface of the river, the fuselage was intact. Where is the plane now?

ADLER: The plane now is apparently right around Battery Park. I guess it's been tugged there. And I think you're right that these images of people standing on the wings and standing on top of the plane, I think the thing that's most amazing about those images is that their feet were clearly in 40 degree water in 20 degree weather.

BLOCK: NPR's Margot Adler in New York. Margot, thanks so much.

ADLER: Thank you so much.

BLOCK: And again, to recap, that was a US Airways flight 1549 headed from LaGuardia to Charlotte, North Carolina, apparently hit birds while in flight soon after takeoff, and the pilot managed to get the plane over the Hudson River and land there. All 150 or so passengers and crew onboard are reported to be safe.

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