Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Stricken Norwegian liner ‘Viking Sky’ reaches port

AFP, OSLO

The cruise ship Viking Sky, which ran into trouble in stormy seas off Norway, reaches the port of Molde under its own steam on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

A cruise liner that ran into trouble in stormy seas off Norway reached port under its own steam on Sunday after hundreds of passengers were winched to safety by helicopter in a spectacular rescue operation.

Escorted by tugboats, the Viking Sky arrived at the port of Molde at about 4:15pm, TV images showed.

Nearly one-third of its 1,373 passengers and crew had already been airlifted off the ship.

The cruise liner lost power and started drifting on Saturday afternoon 2km off a stretch of Norwegian coastline notorious for shipwrecks.

The captain sent out a Mayday, prompting authorities to launch the airlift in difficult conditions rather than run the risk of leaving people on board.

About 460 of the 1,373 people on the ship had been taken off by five helicopters before the airlift was halted.

Police said 17 people had been taken to hospital. One person more than 90 years old and two 70-year-olds suffered serious fractures.

With three of four engines restarted on Sunday, two tugs towed the vessel away from dangerous reefs before it set sail for Molde, 500km northwest of Oslo, under its own power.

Dramatic footage of the passengers’ ordeal showed furniture and plants sliding around the lurching vessel as parts of the ceiling came down.

Passenger Rodney Horgan said he had been reminded of the **Titanic.

“The best word, I guess, is surreal,” he said.

“Sea water six-seven feet [about 2m] high just came rushing in, hit the tables, chairs, broken glass and 20-30 people just ... went right in front of me,” Horgan said.

“I was standing, my wife was sitting in front of me and all of a sudden, she was gone. And I thought this was the end,” he said.

However, it all ended well for Ryan Flynn.

“Here’s my 83-year-old dad being airlifted from the #vikingsky,” he said. “We are all off the ship safely!”

A reception center was set up in a gym on shore for the evacuees, many of whom were elderly and from the US and the UK.

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