Rescue teams reported progress Friday night as they pumped water out of the hull of a tilting Norwegian cruise ship in danger of tipping over, one day after a fire on board the vessel killed two crew members and forced the evacuation of 260 others.
The MS Nordlys was listing at nearly 22 degrees after taking in a dangerous amount of water on Friday morning. A Dutch salvage team arrived on the scene, placing five pumps inside the vessel Friday morning. By midday, workers were able to reduce the ship's list to about 18 degrees and by nightfall, the ship was listing at 16 degrees. That brings the vessel just below the critical line of 20 degrees, at which tipping over is of serious concern.
At the moment, it looks promising, Police Chief Jon Steven Hasseldal told reports at the dockside. It's still a serious situation ... but now there is a bit more stability in the ship.
We have not managed to seal all holes in the hull, Hasseldal noted before assuring onlookers that they were pumping out more water than was coming in.
One of Hurtigrunten's 12 vessels that ply Norway's rocky coast, the MS Nordlys was traveling along a popular route from Bergen to the Arctic town of Kirkenes when the fire broke out in the engine room at 9:20 a.m. local time on Thursday.
The leisure vessel was due to arrive at its port of call in the town of Aalesund, 230 miles northwest of the capital, Oslo, when the fire began. Nearly 100 of the 207 passengers were evacuated into lifeboats before the remaining departed at port.
In June, a live stream of another Hurtigruten cruise ship that sailed for six days through the fjords along the coast of Norway mesmerized Norwegian viewers. The footage, billed as the world's longest TV program, blasted through ratings records in the country.
The fjord trip, entitled Hurtigruten - Minute by Minute, broadcast by Norway's NRK, was watched by 2.54 million Norwegians. That's more than half the country's population. It was so popular that Queen Sonja welcomed the ship into its final stop at Kirkenes.
Now, the situation is vastly different, with the jubilation in June turned into sorrow in September.
Nine crew members were taken to the hospital for smoke-related injuries. Additionally, two crew members were treated for serious burns while two others, an 18-year-old and a 57-year-old, died in the fire.
When the smoking cruise liner arrived into Aalesund, police cordoned off parts of the town due to the smoke from the fire.
A popular destination for tourists in Norway, Aalesund is known for its art nouveau architecture and is often voted the prettiest town in the country.
Now, the scenic port is covered in a cloud of smoke.
Though the MS Nordlys cruised into Aalesund like a burning chimney, the 207 passengers on board the ship praised the crew for an orderly and calm evacuation.
Officials for the Hurtigruten line said on Friday that they were organizing emergency passports and providing money for the passengers who were forced to leave their belongings on board during the evacuation.
The cause of the fire remains unknown, though police suspect that an on board explosion is to blame.
Nothing indicates sabotage or points to terror, Trygve Oedegaard, head of operations at the Aalesund police, told The Associated Press.
Tune in to the live stream at Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) to watch the progress as workers struggle to salvage the tilting ship.