A boat carrying 11 British tourists capsized off the Norwegian coast last night, leaving two seriously injured.
The holidaymakers were returning from a trip around a group of islands in the north of the country when their boat hit a fountain near the shore.
Local police said two men – one in his late forties and another in his mid-fifties – were taken to hospital with serious injuries after the group was thrown overboard into the freezing sea.
One other tourist suffered more minor injuries.
The boat, one of two carrying British tourists on the trip, reportedly smashed into the fountain – an art installation called Selbanes Seil – at high speed.
The 11 holidaymakers in the other boat were unharmed, but were also taken to hospital as a precaution.
Local reports claimed that the two boats took different routes back from the islands.
While one went in between the northern town of Harstad’s harbour and the art installation, the other attempted to swerve around the fountain at the last minute and crashed into it.
Witnesses said they heard screams of tourists who were flung into the sea. Gunnar Berg, who saw the crash from his living room, told a local newspaper the two boats sped into the harbour before there was a ‘tremendous bang’.
He added that the passengers all appeared to be wearing life jackets, and local emergency services responded quickly, sending helicopters to rescue the injured.
The 22 British tourists all arrived in Norway on Wednesday with Surrey-based travel agency Inghams. They were due to return to the UK this Sunday.
The boats were reportedly owned by two local police officers.
A crisis team, made up of doctors, psychologists and religious leaders, has been set up by the local town to support relatives or anybody affected by the accident.
Local police have also launched an investigation. Inghams began its tours to the area in February last year and offers a variety of excursions, including trips to see the northern lights and a local farm. On its website, the company boasts it is ‘one of the UK’s most experienced specialist tour operators’, and claims its resort knowledge is ‘second to none’.
Selbanes Seil was installed last year. The single-jet fountain spurts water into the air to a height of 164ft, giving it the appearance of a large sail.
In the dark, the fountain lights up in the style of the aurora borealis and was designed to be a landmark welcoming visitors to Harstad.
The region, famous for its northern Norwegian food, has a population of approximately 24,000 and is spread across several islands. Inghams’ tour of the area is known as the ‘Arctic Fjord Adventure’, and costs up to £1,169 for four nights.
Holidaymakers are told they will ‘venture out each day into the surrounding wintery landscape of this untouched part of the world’, meeting locals and sampling the ‘food of the fjords’ at Harstad’s top restaurant, Umami.
Inghams also runs skiing holidays and trips to lakes and mountains all over Europe.
Both the tour company and the Foreign Office were contacted for comment last night. -Daily Mail