Almost 400 people winched from stricken cruise liner off Norway, Latest World News - The New Paper

Almost 400 people winched from stricken cruise liner off Norway

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OSLO: Rescue services airlifted 397 people to safety from a luxury cruise liner with engine trouble off the coast of Norway by yesterday morning and were preparing to tow the vessel to a nearby port.

The Viking Sky, with 1,373 passengers and crew on board, sent out a mayday signal on Saturday as it drifted towards land in the Norwegian Sea.

The ship was carrying 915 passengers, of whom "a large number" were from the United States and Britain.

Some 17 injured passengers had been taken to hospital, a local rescue coordinator told a news conference yesterday, while others suffered minor cuts and bruises.

One was taken to St Olav's Hospital in the town of Trondheim, which is central Norway's most advanced medical facility. Others were taken to local hospitals in the region.

"Many have also been traumatised by the experience and needed care when they arrived on shore," the Norwegian Red Cross said in a statement.

The airlift had gone on through the night.

The ship has been able to restart three of its four engines yesterday but still needed assistance.

"The evacuation continues at the request of the vessel ... it needs tugboats to get to port," rescue service spokesman Per Fjeld said, adding that the plan was to take the Viking Sky to the town of Molde.

Stormy weather conditions had improved in the early hours of yesterday, with winds blowing at 14m a second, down from 24m a second previously, according to the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. The wind speeds were expected to fall further.

Images and film posted by passengers on social media showed furniture sliding around as the vessel drifted in waves of up to 8m, and passengers described the ordeal.

"We were having lunch when it began to shake. 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," American passenger John Curry told public broadcaster NRK on Saturday. - REUTERS