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Photo by (CHC helicopters via AP)

Helicopters fly over the cruise ship Viking Sky after it sent out a Mayday signal because of engine failure in windy conditions off the west coast of Norway, Saturday March 23, 2019. A cruise ship with engine problems sent a mayday call off Norway’s western coast on Saturday, then began evacuating its 1,300 passengers and crew amid stormy seas and heavy winds in a high-risk helicopter rescue operation.

(Stavanger, Norway) — The chairman of the company that operates a cruise ship that got stranded off Norway’s western coast in bad weather Saturday praised the rescue operation by Norwegian authorities and the actions of the vessel’s crew.

Viking Ocean Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen told Norway’s VG newspaper that the events surrounding the Viking Sky were “some of the worst I have been involved in, but now it looks like it’s going well in the end and that we’ve been lucky.”

The company said in a statement that before the ship started being towed to the port of Molde on Sunday, 479 passengers had been airlifted to land by helicopters, leaving 436 passengers and 458 crew members onboard.

A tug boat and two other vessels are assisting the Viking Sky travel from the bay where it managed to anchor to land.

Hagen, a shipping tycoon who is one of Norway’s richest men, said: “I am very proud of our crew.”