The 900-passenger luxury cruise ship Viking Sky has issued an SOS off the coast of Norway due to engine failure in heavy seas, with passengers and crew currently being airlifted off the ship.
Viking Sky issued a distress call at 1pm local time Saturday amid high winds and rough seas according to statement by the operating company Viking Ocean Cruises.
The captain sounded a general emergency and asked passengers and crew to assemble in their muster stations.
A passenger aboard the ship captured the moment the general emergency alarms went off.
The Norwegian Meteorological Institute says some waves are more than 10 metres (32ft) high.
Although one engine has since been brought back online, allowing the ship to make headway at around 3 knots, the evacuation is continuing out of an abundance of caution.
The evacuation is slow and tedious, with passengers enduring extremely uncomfortable conditions. A video posted to Twitter showed the moment part of the ceiling collapsed in one of the lounges.
“The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution,” the line said.
During the night, a wave stove-in one of the doors to the outdoor decks, creating limited flooding in one of the lounges.
Norway’s sea rescue agency says five helicopters are taking passengers off the ship in groups of ten to fifteen at a time, while several cargo ships are maintaining station to lend assistance if necessary.
One of those ships, a general cargo freighter called the Hagland Captain, itself suffered mechanical failure in the rough seas and had to be evacuated via airlift.
At the time of writing, it is understood that around 200 people have been evacuated from the ship thus far.
Norwegian emergency services say that passengers are being accommodated at a local sports hall and in hotels in the area, with eight minor injuries reported.