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Up To 10 Die In Staten Island Ferry Crash

Oct 16, 2003 | WWW.FT.COM

A Staten Island ferry carrying commuters and tourists on a routine, 25-minute ride from Man-hattan crashed as it entered dock yesterday, leaving 10 reported dead and many more injured.

Some victims lost arms or legs as the side of the ferry's main deck was ripped open by the wooden pilings along the dock. Divers pulled one body from the water.

After 34 victims were taken to local hospitals, the ferry, still afloat, sat in the dock bearing a 40-foot gash just under its famous logo. A field of wreckage surrounded the damaged 22-year-old ferry, one of five in the fleet.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, though New York mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested high winds might have been a factor. The National Weather Service had yesterday issued a wind advisory throughout the north-east, with gusts of up to 25 to 45mph.

Mr Bloomberg ruled out terrorism as a cause. "There's no reason to believe that this was done by any outside factor other than the winds or the tides," he said.

The Staten Island ferry is known in tour guides as one of New York's rare bargains - a free, five-mile boat ride that offers views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. But it is also a part of the daily commute for thousands of New York residents, carrying about 20m passengers a year.

The accident appeared to be the worst on the Staten Island ferry in modern times. More than 125 were killed in an accident in 1871. The ferries usually carry about 1,500 passengers at a time. The exact number of passengers aboard was not available.

The shipmaster and crew will be tested for drugs and alcohol as part of an inquiry into the accident. The National Transportation Safety Board has appointed a 12-member team to investigate.

Staten Island, one of New York City's five boroughs, was the site of another accident earlier this year when a barge carrying 100,000 barrels of petrol exploded.

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