Tug boats try to pull stranded cruise ship to shore as rescuers rush to evacuate passengers


Three of the Viking Sky ship’s four engines are working, and the ship has restarted and is moving at a slow pace, said spokesman Per Fjeld of Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway. Rescuers are still evacuating passengers and crew — even as tug boats try pull it to shore — but there’s no estimate on how long it’ll take to get them all out, he said.The Viking Sky ship sent a distress signal Saturday due to engine problems in bad weather, the Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway said earlier. It was in rough seas in the Hustadvika area on the western coast of Norway and rescuers are facing waves of as high as 6-8 meters (roughly 19-26 feet).Helicopters airlifted passengers and crew members one by one Saturday, and the process could continue through Sunday. By Saturday night, about 115 passengers had been rescued and at least eight people had minor injuries, said spokeswoman Borghild Eldoen of Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway.It’s unclear whether any passengers still on the ship have been hurt.

A desperate wait for rescue

Passenger Alexus Sheppard from northern California said she has been waiting almost six hours to be evacuated. Most people were fairly calm, she said, and they were being served food and water.”It’s still rocking and rolling here,” Sheppard said Saturday.Another passenger, Ryan Flynn, described the desperate wait for rescue.”It’s about 3:15 a.m. local Norway time and many of us are still stranded on the Vikings Sky,” he tweeted. “It’s miserable as the seas are still very high with strong winds. The ship continues to pitch and roll. Captain is hoping the winds and seas calm enough to bring ship into port.Rescuers are trying to ensure the ship remains secure and doesn’t drift, officials said.Authorities initially sent five helicopters and a number of vessels to evacuate the passengers. They were forced to divert some resources when a nearby freight vessel lost engine power, putting that ship’s crew in danger, rescue center officials said.Norwegian police said that evacuees were being processed onshore at the Brynhallen indoor sports stadium.Passengers were then being taken to hotels in Molde and Kristiansund, where evacuee centers had been established, they said.The Norwegian Red Cross said it was assisting.

The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure off the west coast of Norway.

The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure off the west coast of Norway.

Loss of engine power

In a statement on its website, Viking Ocean Cruises said the ship “experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway near Molde” about 2 p.m. local time Saturday.”Our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing 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,” it said.

Rescued passengers are helped from a helicopter.

Rescued passengers are helped from a helicopter.The Viking Sky ship, owned by Viking Ocean Cruises, was built in 2017 and can hold 930 guests, according to the company’s website.The vessel was on its way to Stavanger from Tromso, according to the website Marine Traffic. Viking said it had canceled its next sailing — Scandinavia and the Kiel Canal — which had been scheduled to depart March 27.

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