New York City emergency responders at the site of a commuter ferry crash during the morning rush in New York, January 9, 2013. At least two of the people injured in a Wednesday morning commuter ferry accident in New York are in critical condition, and nine others are in serious condition, a city official said. The accident occurred at 8:43 a.m. (1343 GMT) as the high-speed catamaran was docking in lower Manhattan. More than 50 people were injured in the incident, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at a press briefing held near the scene. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York - About 50 people were injured when a rush-hour ferry packed with commuters smashed into a pier in New York City on Wednesday, firefighters said.

The accident took place at 8:45 am (1345 GMT) on Pier 11 in the East River in lower Manhattan, not far from Wall Street, the New York Fire Department said. The ferry was arriving from New Jersey.

“We are assessing 50 patients on the scene right now. We don't know what kind of injuries they have,” an NYFD spokeswoman said.

Witnesses said the ferry was going too quickly when it approached the pier, perhaps resulting in the hard docking. A coast guard spokesman, Charles Rowe, said earlier that the cause of the accident was not yet known.

About 300 people were on board the vessel at the time of the accident.

Police and firefighters were on the scene and evacuating the injured on stretchers, television images showed. Other passengers were covered in blankets and awaiting assistance on the pier.

Television images showed a large gash in the hull of the vessel.

Dozens of ferries bring commuters from New Jersey or Brooklyn to Manhattan every day. - Sapa-AFP