March 23, 2019
OSLO (Reuters) – Rescue helicopters were evacuating people from a cruise ship which suffered engine failure on Saturday in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway with about 1,300 passengers and crew onboard, Norwegian police and rescue workers said.
The maritime rescue service said the Viking Sky had been drifting toward land and had sent out a mayday signal.
The vessel was later able to restart one engine, and was at anchor about 2 km from land and no longer adrift, the rescue service told Reuters.
Passengers were hoisted up one by one from the deck of the vessel and airlifted to a village located just north of the town of Molde on Norway’s west coast.
“If we need to evacuate everyone, it will take a long time,” a spokesman said.
The ship, built in 2017, belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises, part of the Viking Cruises group founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen. According to the company website, its passenger capacity is 930.
Several vessels and four helicopters took part in the rescue and facilities to receive passengers have been set up on land, the rescue service said.
Wind was blowing at a speed of 38 knots, police told Norwegian newspaper VG.
All search and rescue teams in the region are mobilizing, including 60 volunteers from the Norwegian Red Cross, a spokesman said.
Viking’s operational headquarters, located in Basel, Switzerland, did not respond when contacted by telephone.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Alexander Smith and Angus MacSwan)