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Ferry gets stuck on sandbar with 27 people aboard near New York City

A ferry carrying more than two dozen people hit a sandbar and got stuck for hours on Wednesday, spurring an evacuation on a frigid night in the waters off New York City.

No injuries were reported in the second stranding in a month for the city's newly-expanded ferry service.

The city-sponsored, privately run ferry left the Rockaway peninsula in Queens at 5.15 pm., bound for lower Manhattan on a evening with temperatures of around -6C (10F).

About 10 minutes into the trip, "we just came to a screeching halt," passenger Jake Nicholson said.

"Everyone pretty much went flying," he said from the boat, stuck in the waters between Rockaway and Brooklyn.

He said he was nearly tossed over the row of seats in front of him, and his phone ended up a few rows away.

Mr Nicholson, a 21-year-old senior at Loyola University Maryland, said passengers initially were told that there was a mechanical error, then that the boat had hit a sandbar and that the captain tried to back the boat off it.

Four hours later, he, his brother and a friend were waiting their turn to get off the chilly ferry in the small, inflatable boats rescuers were using because of the shallow water.

By then, passengers were "just sitting down, trying to stay warm," said Mr Nicholson, who'd missed the Washington Capitals v New York Rangers game that was the reason for his ferry trip.

The evacuation of the passengers got underway around 7.30pm.

They were all safely removed sometime before 11pm, and officials said the disabled boat would be towed off the sandbar overnight.

Phone and email messages to the ferry company, Hornblower Inc, weren't immediately returned.

The ferry to and from Rockaway is part of a 335 million dollar (£250m) effort, launched this summer, to use the waterways to ease strains on New York's public transportation system.

The service is separate from the famous free ferry that has long travelled between Manhattan and Staten Island.

Last month, more than 100 passengers were rescued from a Rockaway-bound ferry that ran aground off lower Manhattan.

AP

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