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US Airway jet lifted out of water, black boxes found

SALVAGE crews hoisted a US Airways jetliner from the Hudson River and onto a barge late yesterday, three days after its pilot made what he told investigators was a split-second decision to attempt a water landing to avoid a possibly "catastrophic" crash over populated areas.

Investigators retrieved the plane's black boxes, which were filled with fresh water, packed into blue coolers and were to be sped immediately to Washington.

The aircraft's torn and shredded underbelly revealed the force with which it had hit the water. Its right wing appeared charred, some pieces of metal dropped from the plane as it was maneuvered in the darkness, and the destroyed right engine appeared as though the outside had been peeled off.

An emergency slide still hung from the plane; nearby, a compartment door was open, with luggage still visible inside. A gash extended from the base of the plane toward the windows. And in places, the skin of the aircraft was simply gone. But much of its top half looked relatively untouched, as thought it might be ready for takeoff.

After a day of struggling in icy waters to secure the heavy craft, the mood on the shoreline turned festive. People shook hands and investigators took snapshots, while police helicopters hovered overhead.


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