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NSW: Australian woman safe after New York plane crash

16 Jan 2009 7:20 PM

MELBOURNE, Jan 16 AAP - An Australian woman who survived a plane crash into New York's Hudson River has told how passengers worked together to make sure they all got out alive.

Emma Cowan, 26, said she was "very blessed to be alive" after she was forced along with 150 fellow passengers and five crew to scramble out of the US Airways plane after it splashed into the freezing waters of the famous US river.

Ms Cowan, from Perth, was leaving New York after a sightseeing trip when the pilot of the Airbus was forced to ditch into the Hudson after the plane lost power in both engines just minutes after take-off from LaGuardia Airport outside New York City.

Initial reports from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) suggested the plane's engines stopped after it hit a flock of birds.

All passengers and crew survived the crash.

Ms Cowan on Friday told of her rapid evacuation from the plane, saying passengers helped each other out of the ditched aircraft.

"When we hit the water they opened the doors and then everyone just crammed into the aisles," Ms Cowan told the Nine Network.

"Everybody was incredibly helpful, just grabbing people and pulling them in front of them."

Ms Cowan is holidaying in the US and says she intends to continue her trip.

"I'm going to continue my trip, I'm here on a holiday, I'm not going home yet," she said.

"I'm very blessed to be alive."

The pilot has been widely praised for his skill in bringing the Airbus down safely in the river just off Manhattan. The commuter plane had been heading to Charlotte, North Carolina when the incident occurred.

In the seconds after the crash, dozens of frantic passengers clustered on to the wings of the plane hoping to be picked up by boats before the aircraft sank.

Photographs showed people lined up along the length of one wing, the river lapping over their feet as they scrambled into the arms of their rescuers.

Temperatures were estimated at minus six degrees Celsius outside, making it a race against time to get everyone off the plane before they suffered from hypothermia.

Ms Cowan's mother Wendy fought back tears as she spoke to her daughter via video link on Friday.

"We're very proud of you, and it's lovely to see you darling, you've got no idea," said Wendy Cowan, adding she was in a "state of shock".

Her father Stephen Cowan said his daughter had called about an hour after the crash to reassure them of her safety.

"I just think it's a miracle that everyone has survived," Stephen Cowan told Network Ten.

"And from my understanding from her, there are good reports about the pilot, that he did a fantastic job."