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Norway: Cruise ship listing, may tilt over

OSLO, Norway — Rescue teams pumped water from the hull of a Norwegian cruise ship that listed dangerously Friday, a day after a fire on board killed two crew and forced the evacuation of 260 other people, officials said.

Police Chief Jon Steven Hasseldal said the ship had been tilting at an angle of 21.7 degrees, which is over what is considered a critical line of 20 degrees.

Despite the list, a Dutch salvage team managed to place three pumps inside the vessel on Friday morning.

"At the moment it looks promising," Hasseldal told reports at the dockside. "It's still a serious situation ... but now there is a bit more stability in the ship."

A fire in the engine room of the MS Nordlys on Thursday morning caused the evacuation of the ship before it was due to arrive at Aalesund, 230 miles northwest of the capital of Oslo. All 207 passengers were evacuated safely into lifeboats or after it docked.

The MS Nordlys cruise liner at the quayside in Aalesund, Norway, early Friday Sept. 16, 2011. AP Photo/Hakon Mosvold Larsen, Scanpix Norway

"Intense" Norway cruise fire kills 2 crew

Mary Lou Kerm, an American passenger who was evacuated from the ship, told CBS' "The Early Show" that her first intimation that something was seriously wrong on the MS Nordlys was when the lights went out in their cabin shortly after breakfast.

"My husband opened the door and black smoke was rolling down the hallway," Kerm said. "At that moment, the captain said, 'Everyone leave.'"

Kerm said the scene was "unbelievably calm."

"I think that helped everyone - we were calm on the deck. We were calm as we were helping each other get our life jackets on. And the crew helped us get into the lifeboats quite rapidly. It was amazing."

"It was surreal," she said. "I'm sure people had lots of mixed emotions, but there was no panic shown."

Two crew were found dead in the engine room while nine others were admitted to hospital, two of whom had serious injuries, including burns and smoke inhalation. Three rescue workers were treated for mild injuries from inhaling smoke.

Police said they suspected an explosion in the engine room but did not know what caused it.

"Nothing indicates sabotage or points to terror," said Trygve Oedegaard, head of operations at the Aalesund police.

Thick black smoke billowed from the stern of the ship, operated by the Hurtigruten line, when it sailed into Aalesund. Police sealed off parts of the town as smoke engulfed nearby buildings.

Passengers said the evacuation was orderly and calm.

"It was a well-organized evacuation," Danielle Passebois-Paya, a French tourist, said. "The crew did a really good job. Everything was calm and went smoothly. There was no panic."

Hurtigruten said it was organizing emergency passports and providing money for the passengers who had to leave their belongings on board during the evacuation.

The shipping line's CEO Olav Fjell said that finding alternative transport for those who wanted to continue their journey would be difficult.

"Our other ships are fully booked so it has been difficult for us to find alternatives for those who would like to continue their journey," Fjell said.

Salvage teams worked through the night but were forced to leave the ship as it continued to tilt. They resumed pumping operations from outside after holes were drilled into the hull to enable insertion of hoses.

Hasseldal said that a floating crane was also being used to stabilize the tilting vessel.

The MS Nordlys is one of 12 Hurtigruten vessels that ply Norway's craggy coast on the popular 1,500-mile route to the northern town of Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle and near the Russian border.