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Cruise ship reaches Norway port after engine problems prompted evacuation

The ship sent an SOS message due to “engine problems in bad weather” yesterday.

Updated Mar 24th 2019, 4:31 PM

Norway Cruise ship Viking Sky off the Norwegian coast Source: Frank Einar Vatne/PA Images

A CRUISE SHIP that experienced engine trouble yesterday off the coast of Norway has reached port after hundreds of passengers were airlifted to safety.

Escorted by tugboats, the Viking Sky arrived in the port of Molde at around 4.15pm (3.15pm Irish time) this afternoon, television images have shown.

Police in the county of More og Romsdal received a report shortly after 2pm yesterday that the cruise ship was having technical problems. 

The ship sent an SOS message due to “engine problems in bad weather”, southern Norway’s rescue centre said on Twitter.

“The boat only has one working engine and the winds are rather strong. Therefore we would prefer to have the passengers on land rather than on board the ship,” a police chief said.

“It is dangerous to encounter engine problems in these waters which hide numerous reefs.”

The captain had sent out a Mayday prompting authorities to launch the airlift in difficult conditions rather than run the risk of leaving people on board.

Nearly a third of its 1,373 passengers and crew had already been airlifted off the ship.

Some 460 people on the ship had been taken off by five helicopters before the airlift was halted.

Police said 17 people had been taken to hospital. One person more than 90 years old and two 70-year-olds suffered serious fractures. 

Norway Cruise Ship Mayday Passengers rescued from Viking Sky Source: Odd Roar Lange/PA Images

 

Five helicopters were reported to be operating this morning along with coastguard and other rescue vessels.

Dramatic footage of the ordeal showed furniture and plants sliding around the lurching vessel as parts of the ceiling came down. Dozens of passengers wearing life jackets were seated around waiting to get off the vessel.

“We’re still waiting for the helicopter to get out,” says Ryan Flynn who was shooting one of the videos. “This is taking very long.”

“I have never seen anything so frightening,” said one of the passengers who was rescued, Janet Jacob.

The area where the ship got into problems, known as Hustadvika, is notoriously difficult to navigate. The shallow section of coastline is dotted with small islands and reefs.

Operated by the Norwegian firm Viking Ocean Cruises, the Viking Sky was launched in 2017 with a capacity of 930 passengers plus crew. 

Includes reporting by © AFP 2019 

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