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Kiwi's photos reveal carnage onboard stricken cruise ship

Author
AP,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Monday, 25 March 2019, 11:06AM

A New Zealander has made it safely to shore aboard the crippled cruise ship Viking Sky after it was battered by 8-metre waves, forcing some passengers to evacuate by helicopter.

Sydney-based Hector Palmer was on the Viking Sky with his companion when the cruise ship experienced engine trouble in an area off the Norwegian coast known for challenging waters.

His photos show tables and chairs scattered on one of the ship's decks and a pile of lifejackets for passengers.

More than a day after the mayday call sounded the cruise ship was escorted by tug boats into the port of Molde with nearly 900 people still on board.

Sydney-based Hector Palmer, right, was on the Viking Sky when the cruise ship experienced engine trouble in an area off the Norwegian coast known for challenging waters.
Sydney-based Hector Palmer, right, was on the Viking Sky when the cruise ship experienced engine trouble in an area off the Norwegian coast known for challenging waters.

By then more than 475 passengers had already been airlifted by helicopters to safety amid wind gusts of up to 70km/h.

During the ordeal Palmer thanked friends on Facebook for their concern and assured them that both he and his travelling companion were both fine.

The cruise ship Viking Sky lays at anchor in heavy seas, after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions, near Hustadvika, off the west coast of Norway.
The cruise ship Viking Sky lays at anchor in heavy seas, after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions, near Hustadvika, off the west coast of Norway.

Yesterday, as helicopters started evacuating passengers, he posted on Facebook: "We will probably be one of the last to be evacuated. We haven't got the necessary requirements for an early evac!

"I promise to let you all know once we are on dry land. WiFi is sketchy but will do my best!"

Earlier today, he posted: "All safe and sound! Docking in Molde and will fly to the UK tomorrow! When life throws you lemons drink champagne!"

Dramatic video footage posted online showed furniture sliding across a viewing deck of the ship as it was tossed about by the rough sea.

Chairs and tables scattered one of the ship's decks.
Chairs and tables scattered one of the ship's decks.

Another video showed that water had boarded the ship in an area where dozens of passengers were grouped together wearing life jackets.

Palmer appeared to toast the safe arrival on Facebook, writing the pair were "safe and sound" and would fly to the UK tomorrow.

The cruise was scheduled to end on Tuesday after visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger.

Instead the Viking Sky cruise ship limped into the Norwegian port of Molde more than a day after issuing a mayday call in a storm that led to harrowing helicopter rescues of half of its passengers.

More than 475 passengers were helicoptered off after the cruise ship, while nearly 900 people remained onboard, the ship's owner said yesterday.

Lifejackets piled up onboard the cruise ship.
Lifejackets piled up onboard the cruise ship.

Five helicopters flying in the pitch dark took passengers from the tossing ship in a painstaking process that continued throughout the night. The rescues took place under difficult conditions that included wind gusts up to 38 knots (70km/h) and waves over 8m high.

"We understand 20 people suffered injuries as a result of this incident, and they are all receiving care at the relevant medical centres in Norway, with some already having been discharged," said Viking Ocean Cruises, the company that owns and operates the ship.

"We saw two people taken off by stretcher," passenger Dereck Brown told Norwegian newspaper Romsdal Budstikke. "People were alarmed. Many were frightened but they were calm."

Passenger Alexus Sheppard told the Associated Press in a message sent from the Viking Sky that people with injuries or disabilities were winched off the cruise ship first.

"It was frightening at first. And when the general alarm sounded it became VERY real," she wrote.

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