NBC News reported that on Saturday, 3/23/2019, the Viking Sky vessel, which had about 1,373 passengers and crew on board, had sent out a mayday signal as it had been drifting towards land after losing engine power. Passengers were hoisted one-by-one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village just north of the town of Molde on Norway’s west coast. What was supposed to be a dream vacation, turned out to be an utter nightmare for the passengers.
Rescue helicopters evacuated more than 400 people from a luxury cruise ship that experienced engine failure on Saturday in stormy weather.
Evacuations continued Sunday morning, but have now been suspended.
The sea is still rough, but with three out of four of its engines running, the ship was being towed towards land and calmer waters and is expected to arrive at the port of Molde on Norway’s west coast Sunday afternoon.
Seventeen passengers who were evacuated were hospitalized, some with fractures and cuts, and some suffering from trauma.
“We were having lunch when it began to shake. Window panes were broken and water came in. It was just chaos. The trip on the helicopter, I would rather forget. It was not fun,” American passenger John Curry told public broadcaster NRK.
Images and film posted by passengers on social media showed furniture sliding around as the vessel drifted in waves of up to 26 feet.
“Our first priority was for the safety and well being 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,” Viking Cruises said in a statement to Reuters.
Earlier on Saturday lifeboats were forced to turn back en route to the ship due to the “brutal” conditions.
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.
Derek and Esther Browne, from Hampshire, said the “whole boat was swaying, it was very rough” before they were airlifted to safety.
Mr. Browne told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan: “We had a few people on stretchers, several with cuts, two with broken limbs, but fortunately we were alright. We were airlifted onto the helicopter which was quite a frightening experience.”
He added: “I’d never been in a helicopter before, there were a lot of high winds, hovering overhead and the winchman came down and we were then collected up and so I shut my eyes as we arrived into the helicopter and there were 15 of us for about a 20-minute ride.”
Several vessels and four helicopters took part in the rescue and extensive facilities were set up on land to receive passengers.
All search and rescue teams in the region were mobilized, including 60 volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross, a spokesman said.
Passengers from the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, posted images and videos detailing hours spent aboard the drifting ship on social media. Some showed furniture sliding around as the vessel drifted in waves.
Ref. NBC News, nbcnews.com, reuters.com, telegraph.co.uk
Photo courtesy of Bing via uk.style.yahoo.com