Dozens of passengers had a miraculous escape after a US airliner plunged into the Hudson River in New York.

Passengers could be seen standing on both wings of the plane, which was upright in the freezing water.

Large numbers of passengers wearing yellow life jackets were pulled from the water and taken on board ferries to safety.

Some of the passengers who had been standing on the plane's fuselage were not even wet when they were rescued.

One told CNN: “I was standing on the left wing for a little while.

“I hope none of us ever have to experience it again.

“I think everyone got out of the plane.

“I think everyone survived and that's miraculous.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said US Airways Flight 1549 took off from LaGuardia Airport before crashing into the water off Manhattan.

The FBI said there was no indication of terrorist involvement and it has been suggested that the plane, an Airbus 320, came down after flying into a flock of birds.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said: “The flight took off at 3.26 eastern time. We believe it was airborne for three minutes after take-off when it crashed into the Hudson River.

“The reports of bird strikes come from eyewitnesses on the ground.”

She added that 148 passengers and five crew members were on board the aircraft.

Aviation expert James Ferguson said he had never seen anything like it.

He told the BBC: “If you hit water fairly hard, as you will do with an aircraft, it tends to break up. But this aircraft seems to be virtually undamaged.”

Former BA pilot Eric Moody told Sky News the pilot had performed a “textbook ditching”.

He said: “That very rarely happens, unless you are near a runway. Whoever has flown that has done a really good job.”