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Passengers describe desperate wait for rescue as cruise ship tilts and floods

Updated 9:14 AM ET, Sun March 24, 2019

(CNN) - Passengers aboard a cruise ship that was stranded off the western coast of Norway for 20 hours described harrowing scenes as they awaited rescue.

"It's miserable as the seas are still very high with strong winds," passenger Ryan Flynn tweeted at what he estimates was 3:15 a.m. local time. "The ship continues to pitch and roll. Captain is hoping the winds and seas calm enough to bring ship into port. Good luck!"

The Viking Sky ship sailed back to port on Sunday morning, a day after the vessel sent a distress signal when its engines cut out in rough seas with 1,300 passengers and crew on board.

Jan Terbruegen was one of the passengers to be rescued from the ship. He told CNN affiliate Dagbladet that he was trying to stay low in the ship to avoid seasickness from all of the tossing when he heard that rescue was available. And it came at a scary time.

"We could see that we were getting blown in towards some rocks. That was the most frightening thing I think. But luckily that wasn't our destiny," he told the outlet.

Beth Clark, another rescued passenger, said that she has friends who are still on board.

Rough seas in the Hustadvika area on the western coast of Norway made the passengers' wait tumultuous.

Authorities initially sent five helicopters and a number of vessels to evacuate those on board. They were forced to divert some resources when a nearby freight vessel lost engine power, putting that ship's crew in danger, Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway officials said.

Rescue teams airlifted 479 people from the vessel, Viking Ocean Cruises said in a statement. Twenty people who sustained injuries in the incident were being treated at medical facilities in Norway, or had already been discharged.

Rescuers faced waves of about 6-8 meters (roughly 19-26 feet) high.

In one video posted to Twitter, water can be seen rushing through the ship, and passengers are filmed raising their legs to avoid the flooding.


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