OSLO, Norway (AP) — An “intense” fire in a cruise ship’s engine room killed two crewmen Thursday, injured nine others and forced over 200 passengers to evacuate a popular cruise off Norway’s craggy western coast. Police suspect an on-board explosion.
Thick black smoke billowed from the stern of the boat, the MS Nordlys, of Norway’s Hurtigruten line even before it pulled into the dock at Aalesund, 230 miles (375 kilometers) northwest of the capital of Oslo. Police sealed off parts of the town as the smoke engulfed nearby buildings.
The ship’s emergency evacuation began after the fire started at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT), with more than 100 passengers piling into lifeboats in the frigid waters. The rest of the ship’s 207 passengers and 55 crew were evacuated at the dock at Aalesund, with some crew staying on board to fight the fire.
“We were sent up on deck and given our lifevests,” Danielle Passebois-Paya, a French tourist, told Norwegian daily Aftenposten. “It took only a few minutes after the alarm and we were in the lifeboats.”
The chief of Aalesund’s fire brigade, Geir Thorsen, described the fire as “big and intense.” He could not confirm reports that the ship’s fire-extinguishing system did not work, but said its electricity system was knocked out.
The MS Nordlys plies Norway’s western coast on the popular 1,500-mile (2,500-kilometer) cruise between the southwestern city of Bergen and the northern town of Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle near the Russian border. The route features spectacular fjords, mountains, islands and Arctic wildlife, and carries both tourists eager to see the scenery and locals and cargo from coastal cities and hamlets.
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