Britons tell of ‘frightening’ Norway cruise ship rescue

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Media captionBritish passenger Derek Browne: ‘We were told mayday mayday!’

A British couple airlifted from a cruise ship stranded in rough seas off the Norwegian coast have described their “frightening experience”.

Derek and Esther Browne, from Hampshire, were among 200 Britons on board the MV Viking Sky when it sent a mayday call on Saturday.

Five helicopters and several ships were called in to rescue 1,300 people.

Mr Browne told BBC News: “We had a few people on stretchers, several with cuts, a few with broken limbs.”

Norway cruise ship evacuated after engine problems

The ship’s crew managed to anchor the ship in Hustadvika Bay after losing engine power, according to police in Moere og Romsdal, amid fears the vessel would run aground.

Mr Browne said: “We were going for the afternoon film show and the lights suddenly went out and then suddenly more rolling. We heard the anchor being dropped and then we were told: ‘Mayday, mayday!’ And the bleeps went off on the radio and that was it – we all had to evacuate.”

The evacuation was hampered by the conditions, he said: “The lifeboats couldn’t function and the RNLI couldn’t come out because the seas were so rough, so they sent helicopters.

“Two helicopters had to take off 930 passengers”.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The ship ‘rolled and rolled’ before engines lost power, Mr Browne said

He said it was “quite a frightening experience”.

“I’d never been in a helicopter before,” he said. “There were a lot of high winds, hovering overhead and the winchman came down and we were then collected up and so I shut my eyes as we arrived into the helicopter, and there were 15 of us for about a 20-minute ride.”

By 22:40, 155 people had been brought to shore.

One of the rescue ships – a freighter named Hagland Captain – also lost engine power and two helicopters were diverted to rescue its crew.

Eight people suffered injuries and three of those were thought to be in a serious condition, public broadcaster NRK reported.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “We are in touch with Norwegian authorities and stand ready to help any British people who require our assistance”.

‘Dangerous stretch’

The boat will be towed to the city of Molde, on Norway’s west coast, on Sunday, authorities said.

A spokeswoman for Viking Cruises said: “The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution.

“A small number of non-life threatening injuries have been reported. Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests.”

MV Viking Sky is a Viking Ocean Cruises ship, which had its maiden voyage in 2017.

Website MarineTraffic shows the vessel was en route to Stavanger from Tromso, and is drifting off the town of Farstad near Molde on the country’s western coast.

The area is known as the Hustadvika and is reportedly one of the most dangerous stretches of Norway’s coast.


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