Arab Today, arab today rough seas halt bid to rescue stricken cargo ship off france
Last Updated : GMT 12:54:10
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Rough seas halt bid to rescue stricken cargo ship off France

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Rough seas halt bid to rescue stricken cargo ship off France

Dutch salvage experts are beginning to tow this Panamanian-registered cargo
Bordeaux - AFP

Rough seas on Friday thwarted an attempt by salvage experts to prepare a stricken cargo ship for towing three days after it broke down off the western coast of France.

A helicopter carried four experts from Dutch firm Smit Salvage to the Panamanian-registered Modern Express, which was listing dangerously in rough seas around 270 kilometres (170 miles) off the seaside resort of La Rochelle.

The Dutch team managed to fix a line between the ship and a towing vessel, but swells of up to five metres (16 feet) "caused the line to snap", maritime authorities said.

Nightfall prevented a second attempt and the operation will resume early Saturday, officials said.

Because the 164-metre-long (538-foot) vessel is listing at 40 to 50 degrees, towing it will be dangerous and difficult, but not impossible, experts said.

"Apparently it has reached its maximum tilt," said Yvon Mounes, a former commander of a high-seas tugboat. "However it's certain that if (it takes on water) it will sink. A boat doesn't float indefinitely."

The ship's 22 crew -- who were from the Philippines, according to the Spanish press -- were evacuated by helicopter in dramatic scenes on Tuesday after they sent out a distress call.

The cause of the breakdown remains unknown.

The ship, which was carrying diggers and 3,600 tonnes of timber, was slowly drifting eastwards.

A French frigate and a tug were at the scene as well as two Spanish tugs sent by the ship's owners after French authorities warned them to take action to prevent the ship posing a danger.

 

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