A witness told the media the plane approached the airport "very low" before hitting the water.
"I thought we landed hard until I looked over and saw a hole in the side of the plane and water coming in".
A US Navy rescue team waded through a half-submerged Air Niugini plane to pull survivors into an inflatable rescue boat after the jet crashed into a Micronesian lagoon.
The airline said the plane, which was involved in a collision with another aircraft earlier this year, had "landed short of the runway".
'It was just surreal.
He said the flight attendants were yelling, and that he suffered a minor head injury.
Within minutes, local fishermen were on the scene with a flotilla of small motor boats to rescue people. "They were awesome and I was really impressed", he said.
Air Niugini issued a brief statement via Twitter shortly after the crash.
The cause of the crash and the exact sequence of events remains unclear.
None of the 35 passengers or 12 crew aboard PX73 died, although several were seriously injured.
It could have been much worse.
The Federated States of Micronesia is a nation made up of over 600 islands in the Pacific. But their total land area is only four times the size of the US capital.
"Chuuk has lot of outboard engines and boats out there", said Glenn Harris, an aviation-security inspector for Micronesia's Department of Transportation. Pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles safely landed their powerless plane on the Hudson River and passengers and crew walked on the wings to be rescued.
Air Niugini said local authorities and the airline were continuing to search for the missing passenger.
After the crash, all flights in and out of the Chuuk International Airport were suspended. Chuuk makes up one of its four island states.
Air Niugini scheduled a special flight "to allow those passengers who wish to complete their trip to Port Moresby and onward to their final destinations".
He said he has yet to see a passenger manifest, but typical passengers would include businesspeople from Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia, as well as some tourists. It has close ties with the USA under an agreement known as a compact of free association. Two Australians were on board the aircraft at the time of the crash.
An American passenger on the plane, and one of the people who shot the video footage, Bill Jaynes, said that he was up to his waist in water whilst still on the plane.