Image: AP

A cruise ship carrying 1,300 people has reached the Norwegian coast after engine trouble and bad weather left the boat and its passengers stranded at sea for almost 24 hours.

According to The New York Times, “890 people — 436 passengers and 458 crew members — were left on the 47,800-ton ship, the Viking Sky, as it struggled back to Molde, a coastal town in western Norway, after some of the engines were restarted.”

It’s not clear what caused the engine trouble in the first place, but while the ship was still stranded, five rescue helicopters attempting to evacuate passengers in the middle of the night faced bad weather and rough waters, making the evacuation “harrowing” for the airlifted passengers. Winds gusting at as much as 46 mph and 26-foot waves rocked the ship, shattering glass while sending furniture and passengers sliding across the the floor. A spokesperson for Viking Cruises says that 20 passengers sustained injuries, including broken bones.  

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Passenger Rodney Horgen told The Washington Post about what must have been a truly nightmarish 24 hours:

“When the windows and door flew open and the 2 meters of water swept people and tables 20 to 30 feet, that was the breaker. I said to myself, ‘This is it,’” Horgen recalled. “I grabbed my wife but I couldn’t hold on. And she was thrown across the room. And then she got thrown back again by the wave coming back.”

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Other passengers reported seeing people removed from the cruise ship on stretchers.

The ship left Bergen, Norway on March 14 and was supposed to arrive in Tilbury, on the River Thames in southeastern England on March 26. Viking Cruises says the passengers who were airlifted are now set to fly home from Molde, with the first leaving today.