Norway’s fourth Tamil temple has opened, in Alesund. Three priests, from England, Denmark and Oslo, came to do a “water vessel ceremony” to consecrate the place, which will be repeated every twelve years. “In order for a building to be considered a temple it must be consecrated. If it has not been blessed there won’t be any spiritual power.” says Rasathurai Sathinalingam who is chairman of the board at Alesund Hindu Cultural Center. “Now that we have a permanent meeting place it will be easier to give a religious education to our children,” explains Mrs. Suki Ponnuthurai.
About 350 Hindus live in the surrounding More and Romsdal coastal district. Even though the temple is primarily for Hindus, people of other faiths are welcome. “Yes, everyone can come here,” Sathinalingam exclaims. Among those who came to express congratulations to the Hindu community on this occasion was Oystein Engas, head of the Norwegian Lutheran Mission. Despite the fact that Engas is head of the local missionary work, he says that it is good for Christians to practice tolerance for other religions and he emphasizes that there will be no attempts to try to convert any of the Hindus here.
A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast on Saturday as it desperately tried to avoid being grounded on the rocky coast. Rescue workers then launched a high-risk evacuation of the ship’s 1,300 passengers and crew, winching them one by one up to helicopters as heaving waves tossed the ship from side to side.
The Norwegian newspaper VG said the Viking Sky cruise ship ran into propulsion problems as bad weather hit Norway’s coastal regions and the vessel started drifting toward land. Police in the western county of Moere og Romsdal said the crew, fearing the ship would run aground, managed to anchor in Hustadsvika Bay, between the western Norwegian cities of Alesund and Trondheim, so the evacuations could take place.
Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances. Norwegian media reported gusts up to 38 knots (43 mph) and waves over 8 meters (26 feet). The area is known for its rough, frigid waters.
Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the Viking Sky’s evacuation was a slow and dangerous process, as passengers needed to be hoisted from the cruise ship to the five available helicopters one by one. By 6 p.m., some 100 people had been rescued and were being taken to a nearby sports hall.
Later, reports emerged that a cargo ship with nine crew members was in trouble nearby, and the local Norwegian rescue service diverted two of the helicopters to that rescue.
Authorities told NRK that a strong storm with high waves was preventing rescue workers from using lifeboats or other vessels to take passengers ashore.
“It’s a demanding exercise, because [passengers] have to hang in the air under a helicopter and there’s a very, very strong wind,” witness Odd Roar Lange told NRK at the site.
Video and photos from people on the ship showed it heaving, with chairs and other furniture dangerously rolling from side to side. Passengers were suited up in orange life vests, but the waves broke some windows and water flowed over the feet of some passengers.
According to the cruisemapper.com website, the Viking Sky was on a 12-day trip that began March 14 in the western Norwegian city of Bergen.