Evacuation begins as cruise ship carrying 1300 sends mayday call off Norway

Evacuation begins as cruise ship carrying 1300 sends mayday call off Norway

Evacuation begins as cruise ship carrying 1300 sends mayday call off Norway

The Viking Sky was drifting towards land and had sent out a mayday signal, said the country's maritime rescue service.

But the crew were later able to restart one engine and the ship was at anchor about 2 km from land.

"I have never seen anything so frightening", said one of the passengers who was rescued, Janet Jacob.

She said her helicopter ride to safety came amid strong winds "like a tornado", prompting her to pray "for the safety of all aboard". Norweigian rescue officials confirmed the freighter "Hagland Captain" was in trouble, with two helicopters divertred to assist.

Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the crew, fearing the ship would run aground, managed to anchor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim, so the helicopter evacuations could take place.

The cruise ship Viking Sky.

"It will take time to evacuate everyone", Franck said.

"It is risky to encounter engine problems in these waters which hide numerous reefs", Franck added.

A reception centre has been set up in a gym on shore to accommodate the evacuees, whose nationalities are not yet known.

The Viking Sky had engine problems and sent a mayday call off Norway's western coast on Saturday as it desperately tried to avoid being grounded on the rocky coast.

"The boat is stable".

Rescuers are trying to ensure the ship remains secure and doesn't drift as they attempt to get the engines "working again so the ship can go by its own machine to a safe harbor". "It is now around two kilometres (1.2 miles) off the coast", said a spokesman for the rescue centre, Einar Knutsen, said. The area is known for its rough, frigid waters.

Video footage from on board the cruise ship Viking Sky shows furniture rolling around and parts of the ceiling collapsing.

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