The ‘Viking Sky’ cruise ship lost engine power off the coast of Norway on its way to Stavanger over the weekend, which called for the rescue of the 1,300 passengers on board. The ship, owned by Viking Ocean Cruises, sent out a distress signal Saturday afternoon for loss of engine power in extremely rough seas and after 20 hrs of being tossed around in the ocean, rescuers were able to airlift 479 passengers to safety.
There are 436 guests and 458 crew still remaining on board after the ship regained engine power and is traveling to Molde Harbor accompanied by two supply ships and one tug assist vessel. Rescuers faced rough seas and waves as high as 19-26 feet as they worked to airlift passengers from the Hustadvika area on the western coast of Norway by helicopter.
Viking Ocean Cruises said in a statement, “Our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew, and in close cooperation with the Norwegian Coast Guard, the captain decided to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter.”
The Norwegian Red Cross treated passengers from the ship at an evacuation center in Hustadvika and said they saw injuries that included bruises, broken bones, and cuts. Authorities initially sent five helicopters and numerous vessels to evacuate the passengers but were forced to divert some resources when a nearby freight vessel lost engine power, putting that ship’s crew in danger as well. According to CNN, evacuees are being processed onshore at the Brynhallen indoor sports stadium, then taken to hotels in Molde and Kristiansund, where evacuee centers have been established.
American passenger Jan Terbruegen described the ordeal, saying, “Furniture would slide across the room, slide back and with it came people and glass. It was a very dangerous situation frankly. We were trying to stay lower in the ship towards the center just because it was a recipe for seasickness. And then they called to muster stations, and within half an hour we figured out that we’re getting off here. We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks. That was the most frightening thing I think. But luckily that wasn’t our destiny.” Terbruegen said they were told to abandon the ship quickly, leaving no time to be afraid.
Another passenger, Ryan Flynn, described the desperate wait to be rescued, tweeting, “It’s about 3:15 a.m. local Norway time and many of us are still stranded on the Vikings Sky. It’s miserable as the seas are still very high with strong winds. The ship continues to pitch and roll. The captain is hoping the winds and seas calm enough to bring ship into port.”
Praying for the safe recovery of all the passengers and crew onboard #VikingSky ??
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