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Captain blames faulty brakes, motor for NY ferry accident

The captain of a packed ferry that crashed into a New York City pier injuring 74 people blamed malfunctioning brakes and a faulty motor for the accident, US investigators said Thursday.

"As the boat was coming in, the captain found that the reverse thrust was not operating as anticipated," said Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident.

The captain said there was also a problem with the motor on the vessel, telling investigators that at some point "both diesel engines shut off," while he steered it toward the pier, Sumwalt told reporters.

There were 326 passengers and five crew on board the ferry at the time of Wednesday's mishap.

The accident took place during the morning rush hour at Pier 11 in lower Manhattan's East River, not far from Wall Street. The ferry was arriving from New Jersey.

Sumwalt said the captain, who is 36 years old, has 12 years of experience as a ferryboat captain and tested negative for alchohol use, as did the entire crew. Results of drug testing have yet to be completed, he said.

Some witnesses reported that the ferry, the Seastreak Wall Street, was going too quickly as it approached the pier.

Weather conditions were good at the time of the accident, with hardly any wind and good visibility.

Dozens of ferries bring thousands of commuters from New Jersey or Brooklyn to Manhattan every day, but accidents are rare.

The most serious mishap, in October 2003, killed 11 people and injured 70 others when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a pier at full speed.

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