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Nearly 60 hurt in New York City ferry accident

Nearly 60 people have been injured in a New York City commuter ferry accident. The boat crashed into a pier during rush hour, leaving two people in critical condition.

The Seastreak catamaran ferry, en route from New Jersey on the East River, hit Pier 11 in lower Manhattan Wednesday morning.

"The latest report we have is that 58 people were injured. Two of those were critical," coast guard spokesman Charles Rowe said, adding that an investigation would be launched.

Both of the passengers in critical condition suffered head injuries, authorities said.

Witnesses said the ferry was moving too quickly as it approached the pier, but Rowe said the cause of the accident was not yet known. Weather conditions were good at the time of the incident, with little wind and good visibility.

"Basically, it was a hard landing," city transportation comissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at a news conference, adding that the ferry was traveling at a speed of 10-12 knots when it missed its docking target.

Most of the injured were standing near the bow of the ship waiting to disembark and were thrown back into the ferry or below deck. Nobody fell into the water.

There were 326 passengers and five crew on board the vessel at the time of the accident, said Rowe. Television images showed police and firefighters evacuating the injured on stretchers, and a large gash was visible on the ferry's hull.

Dozens of ferries shuttle thousands of commuters from Brooklyn and New Jersey into Manhattan every day, but accidents are rare. In October 2003, 11 people were killed and 70 others injured when a Staten Island ferry hit a pier at full speed.

dr/ipj (AFP, dpa, AP)