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Cruise ship investigation

UPDATE 7:10 a.m.

Norwegian officials have opened an investigation into why a cruise ship carrying more than 1,370 people set sail along the country's often wild western coast despite storm warnings, forcing a major evacuation by helicopter.

One person is in critical but stable condition in an intensive care ward, hospital officials said, adding eight others are still hospitalized after the Viking Sky had engine problems off the Norwegian coast and issued a mayday on Saturday afternoon.

The Viking Sky had left the northern city of Tromsoe and was headed for Stavanger in southern Norway when it ran into trouble.

The ship anchored in heavy seas to avoid being dashed on the rocks in an area known for shipwrecks. Norwegian authorities then launched a daring rescue operation despite the high winds, eventually winching 479 passengers off the ship by helicopter in an operation that went on for hours Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

Dag S. Liseth of Norway's Accident Investigations Board said "the high risk which the ship, its passengers and crew were exposed to made us decide to investigate the incident."

After about half of the passengers were taken off, the captain made the decision Sunday to halt the evacuation. About 900 people were still on board when the ship limped into the port city of Molde on its own engines.

Liseth said investigators were headed to Molde on Monday and declined to speculate as to why the Viking Sky captain had decided to sail to Stavanger in the first place despite the weather warning. He couldn't immediately say how long the ship would remain in Molde.

Yngve Skovly, of the police force in Moere and Romsdal district, where Molde sits, said there is no suspicion of a criminal offence but police have opened an investigation to find out why the ship had engine problems. That probe would be part of the one by the Accident Investigations Board.


ORIGINAL 5:22 a.m.

Norwegian officials are investigating why a cruise ship carrying more than 1,300 people, including 15 Canadians, set sail despite storm warnings and forced a major evacuation after a mayday call had been issued.

Global Affairs Canada says the Canadians were on board the Viking Sky cruise ship when it ran into engine trouble off Norway's rough, frigid western coast.

In an email statement, department spokesman Stefano Maron says one of the 15 was injured, and consular officials are in contact with those involved.

Maron says no further information could be disclosed, citing the Privacy Act.

The cruise ship was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew when it issued a mayday call Saturday afternoon.

Rescuers worked all night and into Sunday to airlift half of its passengers — 479 people — to shore by helicopter before the ship was able to slowly make its way to shore on Sunday.

The Viking Ocean Cruises company says all the passengers and crew are safe, the ship has docked in the western Norwegian port of Molde and passengers planned to fly home as soon as possible.



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