The cruise ship Viking Sky suffered an engine failure in windy conditions off the Norwegian west coast on Saturday. The ship had 1,373 passengers on board and on Sunday, 479 people had been airlifted safely to land by five helicopters. The vessel suffered engine trouble and sent out a mayday around 1pm GMT on Saturday near Hustadvika in More og Romsdal.
The police have now said the first 479 passengers have been successfully evacuated, where 20 have been sent to the hospital, three of them with serious injuries.
In a press release at 11am GMT, Viking Ocean Cruises said: “The 479 passengers who were evacuated by helicopters have been taken care of.
“Work is being done to organise transport to get the passengers home.
“The first passengers are already travelling today. We have been informed that 20 people have been injured.
“They are receiving medical supervision and care at local hospitals. Some have already left the hospital.”
The evacuation process started at approximately 3pm on Saturday.
Henning Flusund, a skipper of the trawler “Remøy” who is in the area, said he believes it may take about four hours for Viking Sky to reach the Norwegian city of Molde.
The vessel’s motors are now working again and will drive to Molde without help.
Viking Sky is estimated to reach land at 2pm earliest.
Mr Flusend told Norwegian broadcaster NRK: “The weather had settled in the area now. The waves are currently around four to five meters high, and the weather is expected to improve as the day goes by.”
The ship was carrying 915 passengers, of whom “a large number” were from the United States and Britain, according to the rescue services.
According to a local rescue coordination some 17 injured passengers had been taken to hospital, while others suffered minor cuts and bruises.
Norwegian Odd Roar Lange was in the area on Saturday and could see the ship from land.
Mr Lange said: “The ship may be able to get a little further out from land and go northwest in a slow speed.”
One passenger said: “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.”
The Viking Sky, built in 2017, belongs to Viking Ocean Cruises, part of the Viking Cruises group founded by Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen.
According to the company’s website, its passenger capacity is 930.
Multiple people have gathered to follow the dramatic rescue at Hustadvika.
The Norwegian People’s Aid have also confirmed they have been called out to assist the evacuation.
Operational manager Rune Toven told Norwegian paper VG on Saturday: “We are on our way with a crew of 15 people, ready to assist with the evacuations.”
Tor Andre Franck at the Møre og Romsdal police district said the ship “suffered engine failure” and are having “problems with the propulsion”.
He said: “The wind is blowing at 38 knots (43.7mph) in the area. We have established facilities on land for those being evacuated.”
Mr Franck said the ship is “stuck” and added the weather in the area is very bad.
Gunnar Holten, a local man in Hustadvika, the area near where the ship is adrift, says the stormy conditions are very bad.
According to Mr Holton, flying debris can be seen in the air and a roof from a barn nearby has been ripped off by the strong winds.
This story is constantly being updated with new information as it comes through.