More than 1,300 people are currently being airlifted to safety after a 48,000 tonne cruise ship experienced a loss of engine power, triggering an emergency response on Saturday.
The Viking Sky vessel, which was travelling from Tromsø to Stavanger in Norway, was carrying 915 guests and 458 crew members when the incident occurred at around 2pm Norwegian time (midnight AEDT).
An official statement from Viking Cruises, who operate the ship, confirmed that the incident occurred when the ship’s engines failed, with the captain issuing a mayday call and working with the coast guard to arrange the safe evacuation of everyone on board.
A spokesperson for the cruise company told Starts at 60: “We can confirm that on March 23rd the vessel Viking Sky a 47,800 tonne ship travelling from Tromsø to Stavanger, carrying 915 guests and 458 crew experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway near Molde.
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and all operational procedures were followed in line with international regulations. In addition Viking has dispatched an operational task force, including the company’s owner, to Molde.”
The evacuation process off the west coast of Norway is currently underway with two helicopters and several ships taking part. As of 7am (AEDT), according to the BBC, around 139 people were thought to have been rescued, with official numbers not yet confirmed.
The cruise company also confirmed that they are working closely with the Norwegian Coast Guard to ensure the “safety and wellbeing” of all those on board, while a tugboat is on site to assist.
“The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution,” the spokesperson added. “A small number of non-life threatening injuries have been reported. Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests.”
— Alexus Sheppard 🏳️🌈 (@alexus309) March 23, 2019
Many guests took to social media to document the proceedings as they waited to be evacuated from the ship, with one person writing: “Still on board the
#VikingSky – don’t have a lot of power in my phone but the passengers are doing well. We have been given food and water and the crew still is being amazing.”
Another said: “Passenger on board
#VikingSky Crew is doing a good job. Evacuation is slow. Seas rough. One muster station had a door blow in, injure pax and flood. Moved to midship.”
Other passengers shared videos from the ship, one of which showed water gushing onto the deck, as the guest revealed that a door had been blown off after the ship was bashed by a “massive wave”.
While one passenger shared shocking footage which showed passengers gathered in a lounge on board the ship as furniture can be seen sliding across the room and colliding with guests, before part of the ceiling breaks, with debris landing on the heads of guests seated directly below.
On board the #VikingSky and waiting to be evacuated. Huge kudos to the crew who are doing an amazing job of keeping people calm and taking care of issues.
— Mary Reid (@mereidrundelli) March 23, 2019
The majority of passengers on board the Viking Sky are believed to be American and British.