Chemical tanker taking on water off France after collision

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A tanker carrying 6,000 tonnes of solvent was sinking off France's Atlantic coast Friday after a collision with a freighter forced its crew to abandon ship Friday, maritime officials said.

The 120-metre (400-foot) Maltese-flagged YM Uranus was "taking on large amounts of water" after an apparent collision with a bulk carrier 50 nautical miles south-west off the island of Ouessant, they said.

The ship's 13-member crew took to the life rafts in pitch darkness shortly before dawn from where they were winched to safety by helicopter, said the coastguard headquarters in the nearby Brittany town of Brest.

The Regional Operational Centre for Monitoring and Rescue (CROSS) has dispatched a navy frigate and a high-seas tug to the area. The Uranus was travelling between Porto Marghera in Italy and Amsterdam.

The tanker apparently collided with the Hanjin Richzad, a 191-metre Panama-flagged cargo ship, which was travelling between Las Palmas in Spain and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

© 2010 AFP

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