Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith's parents airlifted in dramatic cruise liner rescue

Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith's parents were airlifted to safety in a dramatic rescue operation after a cruise liner with engine failure in rough seas off the coast of Norway broadcast a mayday call on Saturday.

More than 100 people were winched off the stricken Viking Sky onto rescue helicopters as the liner - carrying 1‚300 passengers and crew - was battered by waves and strong winds.

Video footage taken by passengers showed tables and chairs sliding back and forth on one of the decks as bits of the ceiling fell down.

Smith took to Twitter on Saturday afternoon appealing for information‚ saying: "My parents [on] board if anyone knows anything please message!"

"Hello from Norway. The National rescue command is reporting that they regard all passengers as safe‚ even though it takes time evacuating all by helicopters. More info in English in my feed. Best wishes for your parents‚" replied Elise Aasen‏.

Smith said in an update later that his parents had been airlifted and were safe.

The Guardian reported on Sunday that the ship had restarted three of its four engines and that the evacuation was continuing.

Derek Browne‚ from the UK‚ said the boat was "swaying". He told BBC Radio 5 Live: “We had a few people on stretchers‚ several with cuts‚ two with broken limbs‚ but fortunately we were all right. We were airlifted onto the helicopter which was quite a frightening experience‚" The Guardian reported.

The 47‚800-ton ship‚ operated by Viking Ocean Cruises‚ was built in 2017. at a cost of $400m.

On-board facilities include the sky lounge (theatre)‚ explorers lounge (observation)‚ atrium (lobby and lounge)‚ shops‚ bar‚ piano bar‚ winter garden (poolside area)‚ walking track‚ walkaround promenade (deck 2)‚ covered pool area (with jacuzzi‚ bar & grill)‚ infinity pool (jacuzzi)‚ spa & fitness and beauty salon‚ according to CruiseMapper.com.

 

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK broadcast footage of the helicopter rescue effort.

Viking Ocean cruises said in an update: "On March 23rd at 2:00 pm [Norwegian time] the Viking Sky experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway near Molde.

"Our first priority was for the safety and wellbeing of our passengers and our crew‚ and in close cooperation with the Norwegian Coast Guard‚ the captain decided to evacuate all guests from the vessel by helicopter.

"The ship is proceeding on its own power and a tugboat is on site. The evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution."

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