French tug struggles to pull cargo ship to port

19th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

BREST, France, Jan 19, 2007 (AFP) - A French tug struggled Friday to pull a badly-holed and waterlogged British freighter to port and secure hundreds of tonnes of dangerous cargo, one day after its crew was rescued in dire weather.

BREST, France, Jan 19, 2007 (AFP) - A French tug struggled Friday to pull a badly-holed and waterlogged British freighter to port and secure hundreds of tonnes of dangerous cargo, one day after its crew was rescued in dire weather.

The MSC Napoli was being hauled through rough seas in the English Channel, one of the busiest waterways in the world, the French coastguard said, adding that a jammed rudder was frustrating the effort.

The 275-metre (900-foot) long vessel "is not very manoeuvrable, it's very difficult to get it back into the middle of the Channel," said spokesman Jean-Marie Figue.

He said the aim was to get the freighter to a French or English port. A team of six international experts was helicoptered aboard to evaluate whether the ship was likely to sink or not.

The Napoli, registered in London and owned by the Swiss Mediterranean Shipping Company, developed two long gashes on each side just above the water line in stormy weather on Thursday.

With the engine room flooded and the vessel listing badly, the 26-man crew abandoned ship. Three British Sea King helicopters winched them to safety from their lifeboat in nine-metre (30 feet) high waves and flew them to a navy base in southeast England.

The cargo ship was transporting 2,394 containers, including many that contained a total 1,700 tonnes of diverse dangerous material such as toxins and explosives, according to French officials.

They said a long oil slick was also spilling from the ship.

The captain of the French tug, Charles Claden, said in an interview with Europe 1 radio that it would take around 12 hours to pull the freighter into port.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

 

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