The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway, Saturday March 23, 2019. The Viking Sky is forced to evacuate its 1,300 passengers. (Odd Roar Lange / NTB scanpix via AP)

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

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

A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast on Saturday as it desperately tried to avoid being grounded on the rocky coast. Rescue workers then launched a high-risk evacuation of the ship’s 1,300 passengers and crew, winching them one-by-one up to helicopters as heaving waves tossed the ship from side to side.

The Norwegian newspaper VG said the Viking Sky cruise ship ran into propulsion problems as bad weather hit Norway’s coastal regions on Saturday and it started drifting toward land. Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the crew, fearing the ship 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 extremely difficult circumstances. Norwegian media reported gusts up to 38 knots and waves over 26 feet. The area is known for its rough, frigid waters.

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the Viking Sky’s evacuation was a slow and dangerous process, as passengers needed to be hoisted from the cruise ship to the five available helicopters one by one. By 6 p.m., some 100 people had been rescued and were being taken to a nearby sports hall.

Later, reports emerged that a cargo ship with nine crew members was in trouble nearby, and the local Norwegian rescue service diverted two of the helicopters to that rescue.

Authorities told NRK that a strong storm with high waves was preventing rescue workers from using life boats or other vessels in taking 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.

Video and photos from people on the ship showed it heaving, with chairs and other furniture dangerously rolling from side to side. Passengers were suited up in orange life vests but the waves broke some windows and water flowed over the feet of some passengers.

According to the cruisemapper.com website, the Viking Sky was on a 12-day trip that began 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 Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames.

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

Jari Tanner, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna man loses appeal claiming he was too drunk to murder his roommate

Daniel Ruff will remain behind bars and is ineligible for parole until 2027

Supportive housing complex for women and seniors’ home approved in Glenmore area

32 townhouses for women fleeing violence and a 162-unit seniors home are planned for the site

Rich the Kid cancels hours before Kelowna debut

Rich the Kid is currently on his ‘I Need A Grammy Tour’

Major development proposed for Black Mountain area

The proposal includes plans for condos, child care centre, assisted living facility, grocery store

Ice buildup on creek forces closures of Mission Park Greenway

RDCO is asking users to respect closure signs and barricades until trail reopens

VIDEO: A brief history of bumps in the Trudeau-Trump relationship

Remember Peter Navarro saying ‘there’s a special place in hell’ for a foreign leader who aims to cheat?

Half of shoppers say they have no holiday spending budget

B.C. consumers surveyed estimate they will spend $921 this season

COLUMN: Light holiday movies, filmed here in B.C.

How is it possible to come up with so many holiday-themed movie scripts each year?

Penny the Vernon pitbull works on her fitness

BC SPCA Vernon celebrates Penny’s milestones on social media

Shooting victim’s son-in-law sentenced for vandalizing B.C. home of alleged killer’s wife

Zachary Charles Steele, son-in-law to Rudi Winter, pleaded guilty to mischief over $5,000

Falkland shootout suspect has lengthy criminal record

Williams Lake RCMP issued a warrant for Darwyn Sellars’ arrest on Nov. 4, 2019

Okanagan students come out of the cold to stage Frozen Jr.

Centre Satge performance brings Disney favourite to life

Man killed in crash due to ‘absolutely treacherous’ conditions on Coquihalla

Winter means icy roads are dangerous and drivers should be careful, RCMP say

Bag of cocaine left in B.C. grocery store aisle

RCMP: ‘We sure would like to talk to’ person who left drugs behind

Most Read