Passengers who had boarded the 141-foot Seastreak Wall Street in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, and were queued up to disembark in New York, were thrown to its deck by the impact of the hard landing.
People were thrown through the air as the commuter ferry slammed into a pier, according to passenger Brett Cebulash, 50, an attorney who regularly rides the ferry, which has a monthly commuting cost of $655 (£409).
People who were standing up flew because of the impact.It was a normal morning, we were rolling into the dock and then they hit something. There was a sudden impact
– passenger Brett Cebulash
The boat was travelling on calm waters at between 10 to 12 knots, or about 11.5 to 14 miles per hour when it crashed into the pier, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.
'Everything went crazy' says NY ferry accident witness
The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that its investigators were gathering information about the cause of the crash.
A construction worker, who asked not to be named, told Reuters he was working nearby when he saw the 400-passenger ferry slam into the pier.
The boat was backing up and hit something and that's when everything went crazy.
– New York ferry accident witness
The ferry that crashed is run by Seastreak, a privately owned company that also holds the Interlake Steamship Company, Mormac Marine Group, and Moran Towing, the largest tug and barge operator on the East and Gulf Coasts, according to the company's website.
57 confirmed as injured in New York ferry accident
A total of 57 people were injured as a commuter ferry crashed into a pier in lower Manhattan, it has been confirmed.
One person is criticality ill, and is understood to be in surgery for head injuries. There were a total of 343 aboard, including five crew members.
The New York City Fire Department said firefighters and rescue workers were on the scene of the accident near the South Street Seaport. Some of the injured were taken to the hospital, while others were treated at the scene.
'Around 50 people injured' in New York ferry accident
As many as 50 people may have been injured in a New York Ferry accident, the Reuters news agency is reporting.
Television footage showed damage to the side of one end of a ferry, called Seastreak Wall Street, which set off from Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey.
People injured in the hard landing at the pier on the east side of lower Manhattan were lying on stretchers with blankets over them, waiting for emergency workers to transfer commuters into ambulances.