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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).
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.
Moments after a commuter ferry slammed into a New York pier the captain screamed 'call 911,' an eyewitness said.
"The front of the boat hit the corner of the barge, ripping the right side of the catamaran. It pulled up and the captain screamed 'call 911'," the witness told AP News.
At least two of the people injured in a commuter ferry accident in New York are in critical condition, and nine others are in serious condition, a city official has said.
The accident took place at 8.43am, as the high-speed catamaran was docking in lower Manhattan.
More than 50 people were injured in the incident, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at a press briefing held near the scene.
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 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.
A police department spokesperson said one of the 57 people injured appeared to be in critical condition.
"People were thrown into the air and onto the ground," passenger Elizabeth Banta told CNN. "There were definitely many people on the ground who were not moving."
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.
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.
A commuter ferry crashed into a pier in lower Manhattan early Wednesday, injuring 17 people, the New York City Fire Department said.
Firefighters and rescue workers were on the scene of the accident at the South Street Seaport, which occurred at 8:43 a.m. (1343 GMT), a spokeswoman for the fire department said.
Some of the injured were taken to the hospital, while others were treated at the scene, she said.