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    Dramatic Viking Sky rescue a wake-up call for Arctic cruises

    OSLO (AFP) – What would happen if a cruise liner suddenly found itself without power in the middle of the Arctic?

    After narrowly averting a maritime disaster, Norway is mulling the safety of cruise ships in the Far North.

    Thanks to well-trained professionals and a good dose of luck, the 1,373 people on board the Viking Sky, the ship that suffered engine failure in stormy seas on Saturday, escaped the experience with just a harrowing tale to tell.

    The incident led to a spectacular air rescue operation: almost 500 passengers were winched off the ship by helicopters fighting strong winds, some in the dark.

    The vessel, which came close to being swept onto perilous reefs with a potentially catastrophic human and environmental toll, was finally able to make its way to a nearby port, after getting three of its engines running.

    The engines are believed to have failed due to low oil pressure, maritime authorities said on Wednesday.

    “Most of the people on board the Viking Sky would have died if the ship had run aground, because of the extreme weather conditions, the ship’s movements, a severe list, and a slow evacuation,” said two professors from the University of Trondheim’s Department of Marine Technology.

    “What would the consequences have been if this had happened in Finnmark, or near Svalbard?,” Ingrid Bouwer Utne and Jan Erik Vinnem wrote in financial daily Dagens Naeringsliv.

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