A cruise ship off of the coast of Norway began evacuating more than 1,300 passengers and crew members on Saturday after sending out a distress signal.
A spokeswoman for the Joint Rescue Centre for Southern Norway told CNN that the Viking Sky cruise ship sent out the mayday signal due to “engine problems in bad weather.”
The spokesperson added that about 115 people had been airlifted off the ship on Saturday, eight with “minor injuries,” and that rescue operations would continue through the night and Sunday.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a Viking spokesman said the ship was carrying 915 guests and 458 crew when it 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 Viking spokesman added, noting that the “evacuation is proceeding with all necessary caution” despite the injuries.
According to the Associated Press, authorities told Norwegian public broadcaster NRK that the stormy weather was preventing rescue workers from using lifeboats as rescue vehicles.
“We are working closely with the relevant authorities and all operational procedures were followed in line with international regulations,” Viking said, adding that the company has dispatched an operational task force to Molde.
The cruise line said anyone with concerns about passengers aboard the ship can look for updates on its website.
CNN reported that the ship was secured with one anchor and workers were attempting to get more than one engine running on Saturday. The outlet added that five helicopters and “a number of vessels” were helping with rescue efforts.
The ship was in the Hustadsvika waters off Norway’s west coast, an area “known for fierce weather and shallow waters dotted with reefs,” Reuters reported.
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The NRK, via the AP, reported that the helicopter evacuation was a dangerous and slow-moving process because the passengers had to be lifted from the ship to the helicopters one by one.
“It’s a demanding exercise, because [the passengers] have to hang in the air under a helicopter and there’s a very, very strong wind,” witness Odd Roar Lange told NRK at the site.
“Guests are being accommodated in local hotels when they arrive back on shore, and Viking will arrange for return flights for all guests,” Viking said in a statement.
According to cruisemapper.com, the Viking Sky was in the middle of a 12-day trip. The ship departed from Bergen, Norway on March 14 and was expected to dock at a London port on March 26.