Rescue teams fly away from stranded cruise passengers off the coast of Norway.
The Norwegian authorities began on Monday to investigate why a cruise ship sailed in stormy weather when it came to engine failures that triggered a dangerous helicopter evacuation effort for hundreds of frightened passengers.
"We do not know why the ship sailed and knew that such bad weather was predicted," said Kurt Olsen, deputy director of the Norwegian Accident Investigations Board, to USA TODAY. "We have a very good weather service in this country so the crew would probably know all about the forecast and how they responded will definitely be part of the investigation."
Twenty-eight people were treated for injuries and nine were hospitalized on Monday.
The Viking sky sailed from the northern city of Tromsoe to Stavanger in southern Norway when the ship began to struggle with engine damage, listed it dangerously and then took in water. Norwegian media reported gusts of up to 43 km / h and waves over 26 feet.
Cell phone footage from the ship shows furniture slipping through the rooms as the boat rocks.
The crew called out a May day and a helicopter team flew nearly 500 of the 900 passengers into the Saturday night and Sunday morning to safety. The ship was towed to the Norwegian port of Molde late on Sunday with the help of smugglers and the remaining 436 passengers and the crew were released from 458.
"The ship had surfaced just under 100 meters before it came up, before it was possible to put one of the engines back in service," said Hans Vik, head of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center for Southern Norway, national TV2. "If they had run aground, we would have experienced a great catastrophe."
Olsen would not speculate why the captain of Viking Sky decided to sail despite the weather warning. He said ship operations were part of the investigation, along with a technical study of why the engines failed, and a third review of how the rescue was handled.
Helicopters rescue Norway cruise passengers
"It's very early in the investigation, so we do not know much yet," Olsen said.
Yngve Skovly, a police inspector in the Molde region, told the tabloid Verdens Gang that there was no suspicion of criminal behavior and that the ship was too new to assume maintenance problems. He said, however, that important information could be obtained from the computer logs of the ship.
Torstein Hagen, chairman of ship owner Viking Ocean Cruises, said his company will conduct its own investigations and assist government agencies in assessing the mishap. It is expected that all passengers will be flown out on Monday evening in Norway, the police said.
"The last few days have been both dramatic and hectic for guests and crew aboard Viking Sky," Hagen said in the statement. "I want to apologize for all our guests who went through."
The cruise was scheduled for Tuesday at the British port of Tilbury on the Thames. The passengers were mostly English speaking and many Americans were on board.
Rodney Horgana said a huge wave broke through the glass doors of the ship and swept his wife 30 feet off the ground.
"When the windows and doors blew open and the two meters (6 feet) of water and people swept 20 to 30 meter tables, this was the break," Horgan told The Associated Press. "I said to myself," That's it. ""
Another American, Beth Clark, told the Norwegian news agency Dagbladet how she was ripped off the ship.
"The guy came down from the helicopter, unbuckled my belt and said," Hold him tight, "and shot me about 30 feet up, she said," someone grabbed me and pulled me in like a sack of potatoes dragged me to the back of the helicopter. "
American Jan Terbruegn told Dagbladet that there was little time for panic.
"We could see that we were blown towards the rocks," he said. "That was the worst thing I think, but luckily that was not our destiny."
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