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Passengers Stranded For Hours After Ferry Gets Stuck In Sand In Coney Island Channel

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Passengers found themselves stuck for six hours Wednesday night after a ferry got stuck in the sand in the Coney Island Channel near the Rockaways.

The FDNY said 27 people were on the ferry headed from the Rockaway Terminal to Wall Street, when it ran up against a sand dune in the channel -- located near Jamaica Bay between Coney Island, Brooklyn and the Rockaways in Queens.

Rescues got under way by the 8 p.m. hour. The NYPD Special Operations Unit tweeted photos of their officers in action.

By 11 p.m., all the passengers were off the ferry, but they were not yet back on dry land. They were stuck on dark and windy waters for nearly six hours because it was so difficult for rescue crews even to reach the site where the ferry was stranded.

FDNY officials told CBS2's Ali Bauman that a large rescue boat was set up next to the ferry to bring all 27 passengers ashore. But they first had to move everyone from the ferry over to a rescue boat from small rafts, which could only hold about six people at a time.

That boat only started heading back to land once everyone was onboard.

Some passengers posted video of the slow rescue on social media. One passenger's mother came to the Rockaway Terminal around 9 p.m. after her daughter called her from the stranded ferry and said there was no heat onboard.

"It's cold. Very cold. You know, they're fine, but it's cold," she said.

The passengers were taken off the ferry two by two, and a passenger said on Facebook that they were given snacks and drinks. Power on the ferry went in and out as the rescues took place.

"They had to climb down a ladder – a 12-foot straight ladder down the back of the ferry onto a boat, and then transferred onto several different boats – so a very slow, tedious, time-consuming operation," said FDNY Chief John Esposito.

By 11 p.m., all 27 people had been taken off, including a child who was rescued early with a mother. There were also reports of at least one elderly person on the boat.

No injuries were reported.

How the ferry became stuck in the first place was still under investigation late Wednesday.

The temperature at the scene late Wednesday was 24 degrees with a wind chill of 10 and wind at 28 mph.

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