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British tourists airlifted from the storm-hit Viking Sky cruise liner relive the terrifying moment the captain declared ‘mayday’

BRITISH tourists air lifted from the storm-hit Viking Sky cruise liner re-lived their hell as the captain declared a 'mayday'.

Some of the crew burst into tears when they were blasted with the coded seven short bursts on the tannoy followed by one long siren.

The emergency word "echo" was also broadcast to to the 400 stunned staff as the vessel drifted helplessly in Norway's 'Bermuda Triangle'.

The fear-stricken captain told 915 passengers including 200 Brits in a faltering voice: "This is not a practice - it is an emergency."

The ship's entertainments official with clear tones then took charge of announcements.

Karen Shaw, 57, of Swindon, Wilts., said: "I was wondering if the next call out was going to be 'abandon ship'.

"The Costa Concordia disaster off Italy a few years ago was flashing through my mind. I was terrified we would not survive."

The 14-deck Viking Sky set sail on march 14 from Tromso inside the Arctic Circle for a tour of the fjords before docking in Tilbury, Essex, 12 days later.

Passengers first knew something was amiss when it was announced bad weather would prevent a scheduled stop in Bodo.

The ship's engines cut out on Saturday afternoon in the perilous Hustadvika coastline dubbed the nation's Bermuda Triangle for the number of wrecks it has caused.

It drifted to within 100 yards of rocks - and certain disaster - before one of four engines was restarted and it managed to anchor.

Retired Karen recalled: "I was on one of the decks with my husband Mark, having a relaxing read.

Moment giant waves batter Viking Sky cruise ship during holiday from hell​ off the coast of Norway​

'FURNITURE WAS FLYING EVERYWHERE'

"It was rocky but not too bad. Then bottles began falling from shelves and smashing. Staff were telling us to keep sitting down.

"But one second your chair was in one place and the next on the other side of the room. Furniture was flying everywhere.

"When the call 'echo, echo' came out - which signalled a mayday - one of the staff, a young girl in the bar, started crying so we knew we were in a very serious situation.

"We thought something must have happened at the top of the ship. It all started to go wrong with the lights going off.

"Your natural instinct is to think 'is this it, are we going over' - I could remember the Costa Concordia and how it went over.

"There was one guy with a bandaged cut on his head."

Hubby Mark, 58, said: "I did not think it was going over but Karen did.

"When the first wave hit it was like a tsunami. When code echo was announced, you could see the fear in the eyes of the staff."

Retired Duncan Cox, 80, and 75-year-old wife Tina, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were in the Explorer Lounge when the waves from an indoor pool started hitting the ceiling.

I thought 'oh sh**'. Then the captain said 'this is not a practice'

The former hotel supplier watched as bits of ceiling came crashing down around him. he said: "There was a hail storm and suddenly it all erupted.

"There were seven short blasts on the tannoy followed by a long boom. A voice came over saying 'this is a real emergency'.

"The captain came on saying the engines had failed and he had put out the anchors. All the lights had gone out.

"One woman was having hysterics, screaming and shouting. A call twice went out for stretchers.

"Later, the announcement came there was another ship coming to the rescue and helicopters were on their way - but the ship coming to help us had failed too."

Duncan and Tina met Karen and Mark at a muster point where they spent 12 hours in life jackets with the ship listing at a crazy angle.

They were hoisted 50ft up to a helicopter at around 4am and taken to an emergency reception centre on land.

Retired midwife Ann Scarborough, 62, and husband Tony, 64, of Lincoln - also lifted off by helicopter - were in a cafe in deck three when the storm hit.

She said: "We were watching NCIS when it really started rocking side to side. I said 'this is not normal - get your shoes and coat on!'.

"The electricity was off. Drawers fell out a cabinet and a lamp fell and smashed. Then the alarm went.

"I thought 'oh shi*t'. Then the captain said 'this is not a practice'. We went out following the green emergency lights.

'PEOPLE REMAINED IN GOOD SPIRITS'

"A lady was having a panic attack. There were a couple of times I thought 'are we going to get out of here? We are going in the drink like the Costa Concordia'."

Retired night porter Tony said: "in the early stages we did think 'is this going to go the wrong way?'."

Ann added: "the captain was making regular announcements, he sounded a bit scared, his voice was tailing off.

Maurice Botham, 68, of Penkridge, Staffs., was at a another muster point in a deck two restaurant when his wife was knocked off her feet by a 'tsunami'.

He said: "We were in our life jackets with dozens of others when a wave blasted a door off its hinges, buckling it, and came straight for us.

"My bottom half was soaked but it hit my wife in the face and she went under, totally submerged.

"People remained in good spirits though, there was even gallows humour asking when a band would be along to serenade us like on the Titanic."

The Viking Sky managed to restart its engines on Sunday and limp into Molde with around half the passengers still on board.

Amongst the 13 of the injured 25 who needed hospital treatment was a British man in his 70s later spotted with his arm in a sling and a patch next to his eye covering a head wound.

Police and the country's Accident Investigation Board have launched a probe into the drama.

They are expected to focus on why the liner took that exact route, why the ship's engine back-ups apparently failed and why furniture and fittings were not bolted down.


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