THE severe storms that have been battering the Balearic Islands and parts of Spain caused damage around Majorca and saw the launch of a rescue mission of a cruise liner with 776 people on board when it was crippled 65 miles from southeast Minorca yesterday. The crew of the cruise ship finally managed to manually activate two of the four engines, which allowed them to travel towards the port at Cagliari in Sardinia, at a speed of between 10 and 12 knots. The ship lost all engine power yesterday as a consequence of the severe storm that was blowing in the Mediterranean with winds up to 100 km/h and 8-14 metre waves, a spokesman for its owner, V Ships of Monaco, said. The crew and passengers were reported to be in good condition, and even though some people were injured, it was not necessary to evacuate the boat. The boat was sailing from Sardinia on a voyage from Tunis to Barcelona. The spokesman said the crew had to battle to restore engine power and a liquefied gas tanker, the Gimi, was on the scene shortly after receiving the distress call. A high wave smashing through the windows of the bridge and damaging electronics is thought to have caused the power cut. The distress call from the ship said it was taking on water and was in “terrible condition”, UK coastgaurds reported. They received the message just after 9 am yesterday via the Gimi. The French coastguards said the boat was not on fire and not in danger of sinking. Two Spanish tugs went to the rescue of the stricken Voyager yesterday as part of a French-led operation that was under way. Several aircraft were also sent to the scene. The ship is chartered to the Barcelona cruise firm Iberojet, the V Ships spokesman said. The ship, registered in the Bahamas and owned by Horizon Navigation, was built in 2000. “I woke up and the storm had encircled the liner - it was terrifying, with waves as big as houses smashing into the side of the boat. Nature at its most devilish”, reported one passenger on Voyager.
The strong winds that blew in Majorca yesterday knocked a cross off the tower of the Santa Eulalia church in Palma. The police cordoned off the area just in case any more parts of the roof fell down. The accident happened during the night and damaged part of the building's roof. This is one of the most noteworthy accidents that happened yesterday in Majorca due to the severe storms. The Majorcan Fire Brigade were called out to 31 emergency calls and 15 of these were because trees had fallen down, mainly onto roads. One tree did fall onto a car that was parked at the Alcudia Hospital, said a spokesperson from the Fire Brigade. The main areas affected by the bad weather were Alcudia, Pollensa, Inca, Calvia and Binissalem. The strong winds damaged some of the crops in Majorca, said the agriculture association, Asaja.
The storms yesterday also partially destroyed some of the black vulture cages at the Conservation Foundation in Son Pons (Campanet). Large pine trees fell on the cages but none of the ten birds inside the cages suffered any injuries. The strong winds and low temperatures will continue today, mainly in the northeast, with occasional storms and hail, said the National Weather Station. There will be snow in mountainous regions over 500 metres high. North-easterly Majorca and Minorca will experience strong northerly winds today, which could reach speeds of up to 90km/hr in Minorca and 110km/hr in Majorca. On the rest of the islands the wind will be moderate with occasional strong bursts.