Rescuers Tow Cargo Ship Capsized Near French Coast

High winds and 20-foot waves made weekend rescue attempts impossible.

(Loic Bernardin/Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)
(Loic Bernardin/Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)
(Loic Bernardin/ Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)(Loic Bernardin/ Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)

Rescuers successfully diverted a cargo ship threatening to run aground in southwestern France after five days adrift, and started towing it Tuesday toward the Spanish port of Bilbao.

Broadcast images showed the 164-meter (538-foot) Modern Express listing dramatically as it was towed by another ship via a cable on Monday afternoon.

The maritime authority for France's Atlantic Coast said in a statement later that the towing operation was successful and the ship was towed far enough from the coast to avoid running aground. At its closest point, the ship had been 42 kilometers (26 miles) from the shore.

(Loic Bernardin/Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)(Loic Bernardin/Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)

Spanish authorities agreed to harbor the ship in Bilbao, where it's expected to arrive Wednesday morning, according to the French statement.

The crew on the Panama-registered vessel was evacuated after issuing a distress call last week. The ship is carrying 3,600 tons of wood and equipment.

Rescue workers control the cable on the 164-meter (538-foot) cargo ship'Modern Express'as it is towed while it drifted off the coast of France. (Loic Bernardin/ Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)Rescue workers control the cable on the 164-meter (538-foot) cargo ship"Modern Express"as it is towed while it drifted off the coast of France. (Loic Bernardin/ Prefecture Maritime Atlantique via AP)

High winds and six-meter (20-foot) waves made weekend rescue attempts impossible.

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