Storm and engine failure causes chaos on Norway cruise

A video recorded by an eyewitness shows furniture rolling around from side to side, and parts of a ceiling falling down during a storm which hit a luxury cruise ship off Norway's west coast.

Rescue helicopters evacuated dozens of people from the ship, which also suffered engine failure on Saturday, police and rescue workers said.

The maritime rescue service said the Viking Sky, with about 1,300 passengers and crew on board, had sent out a mayday signal as it had been drifting towards land.

"It was very nearly a disaster. The ship drifted to within 100 metres of running aground before they were able to restart one of the engines," police chief Hans Vik, who heads the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre for southern Norway, told TV2.

"If they had run aground we would have faced a major disaster."

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Cruise ship evacuated
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
The vessel Hagland Captain is pictured on March 23, 2019 near the west coast of Norway at Hustadvika near Romsdal. - The vessel Hagland Captain sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems' and the crew was evacuated by helicopter, the same as the nearby cruise ship Viking Sky earlier today. (Photo by Svein Ove EKORNESVAG / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read SVEIN OVE EKORNESVAG/AFP/Getty Images)
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
Stranded passenger that were rescued by helicopter from the cruise ship Viking Sky are pictured on March 23, 2019 on the west coast of Norway near Romsdal. - Emergency services said on March 23, 2019 they were airlifting 1,300 passengers off a cruise ship off the Norwegian coast. The Viking Sky cruise ship sent an SOS message due to 'engine problems in bad weather', southern Norway's rescue centre said on Twitter, while police reported the passengers would be evacuated by helicopter. (Photo by Odd Roar Lange / NTB Scanpix / AFP) / Norway OUT (Photo credit should read ODD ROAR LANGE/AFP/Getty Images)
A cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019. Frank Einar Vatne/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019. Frank Einar Vatne/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
A cruise ship Viking Sky is seen in this undated photo in Tromsoe, Norway. Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY.
The cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway, Saturday March 23, 2019. The Viking Sky is forced to evacuate its 1,300 passengers. (Odd Roar Lange / NTB scanpix via AP)
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Built in 2017, the Viking Sky is 227 metres long (745 feet) and 29 metres wide, the Viking Ocean Cruises website said.

Founder and chairman of Viking Cruises, Norwegian billionaire Torstein Hagen, met some of those who had been airlifted.

"They've had a bit of a shocking experience," Hagen told TV2 and other media after meeting passengers who had been winched from the deck in the storm.

"Most of our passengers are senior citizens...imagine what it's like to hang there on that wire. It must be a terrible experience but they seem to have handled it very well," Hagen said.

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