1,300 people are being evacuated from a cruise ship off Norway

1,300 people are being evacuated from a cruise ship off Norway

A cruise ship Viking Sky drifts towards land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway March 23, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video.

Authorities say they have had to divert two of the five helicopters rescuing 1,300 passengers and crew from the cruise ship to help the Hagland Captain cargo vessel's crew of nine in the storm.

The Viking Sky sent out a distress signal due to "engine problems in bad weather", southern Norway's rescue centre said earlier on Twitter.

Rescuers are scrambling to rescue about 1,300 passengers and crew from a cruise ship off Norway that suffered an engine failure, emergency officials said Saturday.

Police said on Saturday the ship had managed to moor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim.

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely hard circumstances.

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The area where the ship is stranded, known as Hustadvika, is notoriously hard to navigate. Eight of those evacuated had suffered light injuries. "It was not fun", American passenger John Curry said.

Fisherman Jan Erik Fiskerstrand, whose boat was one of the first to come to help MV Viking Sky, told Aftenposten newspaper, "it was just minutes before this could have gone really wrong".

The BBC reported that by 6 p.m. local time, about 140 people had been rescued, adding each helicopter invovled in the rescue can carry 15 to 20 people at a time.

"The boat only has one working engine and the winds are rather strong".

Several helicopters and sea vessels have been dispatched to the location to evacuate people from the stalled ship. The crew was able to restart one engine and deploy the anchor, preventing it from drifting toward land. Right now, the ship is secured with one anchor. One volunteer said about 80 had arrived so far, and accommodation had been found for them in local hotels.

The Viking Sky ship, owned by Viking Ocean Cruises, was built in 2017 and can hold 930 guests, according to the company's website.

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