Thursday, 18 Apr 2024

Helicopter evacuation of cruise ship in Norway over fears it could run aground

A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast before beginning to evacuate its 1,300 passengers and crew amid stormy seas and heavy winds.

Norwegian newspaper VG said the Viking Sky cruise ship ran into propulsion problems as bad weather hit coastal regions on Saturday and it started drifting toward land.

Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the ship’s crew, fearing it would run aground, managed to anchor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim, so the evacuations could take place.

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under difficult circumstances.

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the Viking Sky’s evacuation was likely to be a slow and dangerous process, as passengers needed to be hoisted from the cruise ship to the five available helicopters one by one. By 6pm local time, some 100 people had been rescued.

Authorities told NRK that a strong storm with high waves was preventing rescue workers from using life boats or other vessels to take passengers ashore.

“It’s a demanding exercise, because they (passengers) have to hang in the air under a helicopter and there’s a very, very strong wind,” witness Odd Roar Lange told NRK at the site.

According to the website, the Viking Sky was on a 12-day trip that began on March 14 in the western Norwegian city of Bergen.

The ship was visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger before its scheduled arrival in Tilbury in Essex on Tuesday.

The Viking Sky, a vessel with gross tonnage of 47,800, was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

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