Norway Cruise Ship Arrives At Port After Passenger Airlifts

24th March 2019
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Footage from on board showed furniture crashing and sliding as the vessel tilted

A cruise ship that got into trouble off the Norwegian coast has arrived safely at the port of Molde after the dramatic rescue of hundreds of people.

The Viking Sky lost power on Saturday and sent out a distress signal after it began drifting towards land.

Almost 500 of the 1,373 people on board were airlifted off in bad weather. Three of the ship’s four engines were later restarted for its trip to port.

Footage from inside the vessel showed it heaving violently in rough seas.

Evacuations were halted as the Viking Sky made its way to Molde on Sunday, accompanied by several tugboats.

Rescuers said they were ready to resume operations if the captain deemed it necessary.

The cruise ship Viking Sky arrives at Molde port in Norway, 24 March 2019
The Viking sky arriving at Molde port in Norway on Sunday afternoon
The cruise ship Viking Sky arrives at Molde port in Norway, 24 March 2019
The vessel was able to dock safely, with ambulance staff on hand to help with any injuries

 

How did the drama unfold?

The Viking Sky suffered engine failure on Saturday afternoon while en route to Stavanger from Tromso in a notoriously treacherous stretch of waters.

Fisherman Jan Erik Fiskerstrand, whose boat was one of the first to come to help Viking Sky, told Aftenposten newspaper, “it was just minutes before this could have gone really wrong”.

The ship could have hit the rocks “if they had not started the engine and fastened the anchor” he added.

Five helicopters and several rescue ships were called in but poor weather meant the lifeboats were forced to turn back.

Route of Viking Sky
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The authorities decided to launch airlifts rather than leave people on board and hundreds were hoisted to safety.

Among those rescued, 20 people suffered injuries. Most of the passengers are said to be British or US citizens, many of them elderly.

The cruise’s operator said 436 guests and 458 crew remained on board.

What was it like on board?

Derek Browne, from southern England, who was travelling with his wife Esther told the BBC the ship had been “rolling and rolling” all night on Friday before losing engine power on Saturday.

He said being airlifted to safety was “quite a frightening experience”.

George Davis, from Manchester, said he and his wife Barbara waited 10 hours to be rescued.

“It was a very scary event”, he said, adding: “Locals tell us they were amazed that we sailed into the teeth of a storm they knew was coming”.

British passenger Derek Browne: ‘We were told Mayday Mayday!’

In footage from the ship, passengers wearing life jackets are seen waiting to be rescued.

The former South African cricketer Graeme Smith said his parents had been among those airlifted to safety.

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