Norway cruise ship arrives in port after airlift drama | News | DW | 24.03.2019
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Norway cruise ship arrives in port after airlift drama

Around 900 passengers were still on board as the ship limped into the port of Molde on Norway's west coast. The Red Cross said many of those who were airlifted to safety had been left traumatized by the experience.

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Norway evacuates stricken Viking Sky cruise ship

The Viking Sky cruise ship that lost power off the coast of Norway arrived at a nearby port on Sunday after three of the vessel's four engines were restarted.

Rescuers said two tug boats aided the vessel as it navigated toward the town of Molde, more than 24 hours after an evacuation order was issued when the ship lost engine power in stormy weather.

The ship's owner reported that 479 of the ship's 1,373 passengers and crew had been airlifted to shore before the ship departed Hustadvika Bay.

The ship's crew had sent an SOS message on Saturday after running into trouble in an area off the Norwegian coastline known for its rough, treacherous waters. 

Footage showed furniture and other fixtures sliding around the vessel, as parts of the ceiling came down.

Officials said the crew, fearing that the ship might run aground, managed to anchor about 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from land.

Some 17 of those rescued were taken to hospital. The Norwegian Red Cross said in a statement that many of them had been traumatized by the experience.

People gather in a local sports hall after being evacuated from a crippled cruise ship that had suffered engine failure

Those evacuated gathered in a sports hall in a village close to the bay where the ship was stranded

The rescue operation could only take place slowly, officials said, with each helicopter only able to carry between 15 and 20 people. The operation was also hampered by conditions, with waves reaching up to 8 meters (26 feet).

"It is dangerous to encounter engine problems in these waters which hide numerous reefs," said police chief Tor Andre Franck. "Therefore we would prefer to have the passengers on land rather than on board the ship."

Read more:  Norway apologizes to wartime 'German girls'

The Viking Sky was built in 2017 and belongs to the Viking Cruises group, founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen. According to the company website, the vessel's passenger capacity is 930, with most of those aboard being British or American holidaymakers.

A second vessel, a freighter with a crew of nine, also had to be evacuated nearby on Saturday after also suffering engine failure.

nm,rc/amp (Reuters, dpa, AFP, AP)

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