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The Modern Express is now completely unmanned AFP

Fears 300 tonnes of fuel could pour into Atlantic as huge stricken cargo ship heads towards French coast

WT24 Desk

A STRICKEN cargo ship is bound for the French coast sparking fears 300 tonnes of fuel could be dumped in the Atlantic, The Sun reports.  The Panamanian registered Modern Express began listing last Tuesday forcing the Spanish coastguard to airlift the crew of 22 to safety.

  The boat was sailing from Gabon on the west coast of Africa to France before being tipped on to its side by swirling seas.So far efforts to tow the out-of-control vessel to safety have failed but a new attempt is expected to be made today.If today’s recovery mission fails the vast ship will crash into France’s south west coast between tonight and tomorrow morning.

Awful weather meant yesterday’s rescue attempts failed two days after rolling seas severed a 500ft tow line as a recovery tug attempted to pull it out of harm’s way. The boat is carrying 3,600 tonnes of timber and digging machines is now tilting at a perilous angel of between 40 and 50 degrees.

The dangerous angle has prevented teams from being able to board the ship.  Emmanuel de Oliviera, the head of France’s Atlantic coast authority, said yesterday: “As of today the sea is stronger than us.  “There is still a favourable window tomorrow to try and connect a tugboat.”

He went on to say it was now “totally impossible to put the cargo ship upright”.  One member of the salvage team was injured in a previous attempt last week.  Emergency measures would have to be put in place in south west France if the ship runs aground to try and prevent the 300 tonnes of fuels spewing into the ocean.

There is currently no sign of fuel leakage aboard the crippled vessel which is around 60 miles away from of the coast of the resort town of Arcachon.

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