Passengers wearing yellow life jackets were rescued off the wings as others held onto the plane's seat cushions, which serve as flotation devices. Some of those rescued were taken to area hospitals to be treated for exposure and secondary injuries. Some 50 other people -- including several children -- were kept at a ferry terminal and warmed with blankets.
Kolodjay told reporters after being rescued that the effort was "organized chaos," and that male passengers allowed women to deplane first.
"I'm just happy to be alive, to be honest; I don't know what else to say," said Kolodjay.
"Our main concern is the rescue effort and whether people could swim," an emergency worker said onshore near the main emergency staging area where passengers were taken.
The National Transportation Safety Board has sent a team to the crash site to investigate. And Airbus, the manufacturer of the airplane, released a statement saying the company would send "a go-team of flight safety investigators to provide full technical assistance" to the NTSB and other agencies.
In a statement from the White House, President Bush said he was coordinating with state and local officials.
"Laura and I are inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew as well as the dedication and selflessness of the emergency responders and volunteers who rescued passengers from the icy waters of the Hudson," Bush said. "We send our thoughts and prayers to all involved in the accident."
The plane was carrying as many as 148 passengers and five or six crew members, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Only 30 seconds after takeoff at 3:26 p.m. ET, the pilot reported two bird strikes and said he wanted to return to LaGuardia Airport.
Controllers began giving him directions for return, but the pilot requested clearance to land at the nearby Teterboro airport in New Jersey. The tower reportedly lost contact soon after that last transmission.
Commuter boats in the area were seen fishing people from the river and rescuing passengers standing on the plane's wings after the crash.
ABC News' Robin Roberts, who saw the plane crash from her apartment window, said it appeared to be a controlled landing.
"It completely just hit the water full force, never bounced or anything like that, and came to a relatively quick stop," Roberts said. "But… it didn't skim along the water. There was very little trauma to the aircraft. It was… I'm still… can't believe what I saw."
"I would say, 10 seconds -- I… have binoculars. I could see that the front door was, they were able to open the front door, and within a couple of minutes a water taxi just happened to be in that direction, and I could see that it was making its way to the airplane as fast as possible," she said.
The water temperature in the river was reported at 40 degrees, just above freezing. The air temperature hovered near 20 degrees.
Hospitals in both New York and New Jersey were alerted to the crash and in crisis mode, but within an hour of the crash many were told to stand down as most passengers appeared in good shape. Some 40 minutes after the plane went down, authorities reported all the passengers were rescued and safe, though hospitals were accepting some rescued passengers for treatment for exposure.