"About three or four minutes into the flight the left engine just blew, fire and flames came out of it and it just started smelling a lot like gasoline. A couple minutes after that the pilots said we had to brace for a hard impact, and that's when everyone started saying prayers," a passenger who was sitting in seat 22A told WCBS-TV.
Authorities say more than 150 people were rescued, including Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn.
"They told us to brace for impact and I said about five Our Fathers and five Hail Marys, then we hit the water," Kolodjay said. "The flight attendants herded passengers onto inflatable rafts at the exit doors. Other passengers stood on a wing, as boats all around picked them up."
Witness Nick Prisco told CBS News.com he was driving on New York's West Side Highway when he noticed the plane flying low over the river. His wife, Michelle, called 911 as the plane fell from the sky and her husband made a U-turn.
"There was no noise, it was like it was gliding," Prisco said.
Dr. Chris McCarthy, director of emergency medical services at St. Vincent's Hospital told CBS News that his department is taking care of three victims of the crash and is expecting as many as 30.
There are also three crash victims at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital reports CBS News' Bruce Lander.
Two of those patients are a husband and wife being treated for hypothermia. The third, Lander reports, is a flight attendant with a broken leg.
CBS News' Kelly Wallace reports from Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, N.J., that three survivors are being treated for hypothermia. An emergency room doctor there says all of the victims are in stable condition and speaking. The hospital is expecting as many as ten more patients from the crash, Wallace reports.
Among those being treated at the New Jersey hospital is 47-year-old Dave Sanderson. Sanderson, a father of four, was one of the last passengers to make his way off the plane.
Sanderson told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric the pilot deserves all the credit for saving the passengers.
"When I was watching how it was coming down, there was no way he could have landed on the ground," Sanderson said from his hospital bed. "He did the right thing, so I give him all the credit. It was pretty much controlled chaos on the plane."
Sanderson told Couric the process was quick and orderly.
"As orderly as it could be under the circumstances," he said. "People were climbing over the seats and coming down the aisle.
"Once we got everybody out, I stood in the plane to make sure. And it was filling up (with water) pretty rapidly, I stepped out on the edge there and it was knee deep and I stepped (onto) the wing and it was waist deep at that point and the boat was already there taking people up.
"I jumped and tried to swim to the first boat I could find. Fortunately, someone pulled me up on the boat because I didn't have much use of my lower extremities. Thank God they did."