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Passengers Airlifted From Cruise Ship Off Norway As Heaving Waves Tossed The ship

The Viking Sky, a vessel with gross tonnage of 47,800, was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises.

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The cruise ship Viking Sky drifts toward land after an engine failure, Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019. VOA

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.

Passengers protect themselves from a collapsing ceiling aboard the cruise ship Viking Sky while listed, after an engine failure, near Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video.
Passengers protect themselves from a collapsing ceiling aboard the cruise ship Viking Sky while listed, after an engine failure, near Hustadvika, Norway, March 23, 2019, in this still image obtained from a social media video. VOA

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.

Second rescue

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.

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The ship was visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames. Pixabay

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.

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The ship was visiting the Norwegian towns and cities of Narvik, Alta, Tromso, Bodo and Stavanger before its scheduled arrival Tuesday in the British port of Tilbury on the River Thames.

The Viking Sky, a vessel with gross tonnage of 47,800, was delivered in 2017 to operator Viking Ocean Cruises. (VOA)

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Sales of E-Cars in Norway Hit a New Record: Experts

E-Car Sales in Norway Reach Record High

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New models of e-cars arriving on the market should help push their share higher still this year. Pixabay

Sales of new electric cars in Norway hit a record high last year, sector experts said Friday, reaching 42.4 percent of all nearly-registered cars in 2019, mostly thanks to strong demand for Tesla’s Model 3.

Norway, a major oil producer that has pioneered electric mobility, offers a very advantageous tax regime for clean vehicles, making them highly competitive in cost terms against petrol and diesel vehicles.

New e-car models arriving on the market should help push their share higher still this year, said OFV, a body which monitors Norway’s car market.

In 2019, 60,316 all-electric new cars were sold in Norway out of a total of 142,381, a rise of 30.8 percent from the previous year when the market share of e-cars was 31.2 percent.

The Norwegian car importer association said it expects e-cars to take a market share for new cars of 55 to 60 percent in 2020.

New models including the Volkswagen ID.3, the Ford Mustang Mach-e, the Polestar 2 and the Peugeot e-208 are expected to boost e-car sales.

NORWAY E-cars
E-cars are being charged on a street in the Norwegian capital Oslo. VOA

“Today, in 2020 and in the years to come, a much larger range of cars is coming, with increased autonomy, greater size and in affordable price segments,” said OFV boss Oyvind Solberg Thorsen.

U.S. firm Tesla was the biggest single seller of e-cars in Norway last year, with its latest Model 3 alone selling 15,700 units.

Bigger goals

Norway’s Electric Vehicle Association called the numbers “very positive” but told AFP it had hoped for e-cars to account for 50 percent of new car sales last year.

The association’s secretary-general, Christina Bu, called on the government to maintain tax breaks for electric cars, which have become the topic of much debate in the Scandinavian country.

Norway, where electricity is almost exclusively generated by hydropower, has a 2025 target for all new cars to be zero-emission models.

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Hybrid cars, which run on both thermal and electric energy, accounted for 25.9 percent of the new car market in Norway last year, while petrol and diesel cars accounted for around 16 percent each. (VOA)