Passengers of Disabled Cruise Ship Rescued

FARSTAD - Rescue crews worked through the night to rescue 1,300 people stranded on a cruise ship off the west coast of Norway, authorities said.

Police in the county of More og Romsdal said the ship suffered engine problems and all those aboard were being removed to shore.

Norway's sea rescue agency said the MV Viking Sky sent out a distress signal amid high waves and strong winds. Five helicopters and several rescue ships were called in for the rescue. One of the rescue ships - a freighter named Hagland Captain - also lost engine power and two helicopters were diverted to rescue its crew.

By Sunday morning, the ship had managed to restart three of its four engines and was attempting to move closer to the nearest port.

"We were having lunch when [the ship] began to shake," said John Curry, who was airlifted by helicopter. "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," he said.

Janet Jacob, who was also rescued, told the channel she had "never seen anything so frightening". "I started to pray. I prayed for the safety of everyone on board," she said. "The helicopter trip was terrifying."

Fisherman Jan Erik Fiskerstrand, whose boat was one of the first to come to help MV Viking Sky, told Aftenposten newspaper, "it was just minutes before this could have gone really wrong". The ship could have hit the rocks "if they had not started the engine and fastened the anchor".

Eight people suffered injuries and three of those were thought to be in a serious condition, NRK reported. According to NRK, most of the passengers were British and American. Sea rescue services said the ship was being held steady and the evacuation was ongoing.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute says some waves are more than 10 metres high, with one local newspaper reporting lifeboats were forced to turn back en route to the ship due to the "brutal" conditions.

MV Viking Sky is a Viking Ocean Cruises ship, which had its maiden voyage in 2017. Website MarineTraffic shows the vessel was en route to Stavanger from Tromso, and is drifting off the town of Farstad near Molde on the country's western coast. The area is known as the Hustadvika and is reportedly one of the most dangerous stretches of Norway's coast.
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