OSLO: A cruise ship became stranded after experiencing engine problems amid strong winds and heavy seas off the coast of Norway on Saturday.
A mayday call was sent out by the Viking Sky cruise ship after the vessel ran into propulsion issues off Norway’s western coast on Saturday afternoon.
The ship managed to anchor in Hustadvika Bay, between the cities of Alesund and Trondheim, Norway, according to local authorities.
The vessel has since successfully restarted three of its four engines and will be towed to the port of Molde, according to AFP.
Rescue teams with helicopters and boats rushed to the scene to evacuate the estimated 1,300 passengers and crew aboard the ship after it became stranded.
A majority of the passengers are British and American tourists.
High winds and rough seas that tossed the ship back and forth made rescue operations extremely difficult and dangerous.
About 479 people have been evacuated thus far by being hoisted one-by-one to safety, AP reported. Twenty people have been hospitalized.
Helicopter evacuations stopped as the ship is being towed to port.
“It was just chaos. The helicopter ride from the ship to shore I would rather not think about. It wasn’t nice,” American passenger John Curry told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
Less windy conditions are in store for Monday. With the lighter wind, seas will lessen through the day, though will remain at 7-10 feet (2-3 meters) by the afternoon.
Videos posted by passengers showed chairs and other furniture items being tossed around from side to side on the vessel as it rocked in the heavy seas.
Large waves broke some windows and allowed frigid water to flow into the ship, according to the Associated Press.
As rescuers were evacuating the cruise ship, a nearby cargo vessel with nine people on board also suffered engine failure in the stormy Hustadsvika Bay, local authorities reported.
Two of the five helicopters that were being used to rescue those stranded on the cruise ship were diverted to evacuate the cargo vessel.