French authorities were still scratching their heads on Sunday (January 31) as to how to prevent a cargo ship loaded with timber from crashing into the country’s Atlantic coast. The captain of the capsized Modern Express, sailing with a load of wood in the Bay of Biscay, 300 kilometers (180 miles) off the coast of France, sent out a distress call on Tuesday and its crew of 22 was evacuated by Spanish helicopters.
Following a technical malfunction on Tuesday, the Panamanian-registered Modern Express started to lean over at 40 to 50 degrees, which led to a dramatic rescue operation to save her whole crew via helicopter.
High winds and six-meter (20-feet) waves made weekend rescue attempts impossible.
Cargo ship carrying 3600 tonnes of wood is in trouble off the coast of France.
The ship is now on course to run aground in the Landes region, near both the popular seaside resort of Biarritz and the Landes de Gascogne Regional Natural Park, a protected stretch of coastline, wetlands and pine forest. Maritime authorities said no fuel leak has been detected.
“The problem is a combination of several things: the wind, the swell and angle the ship is listing at, which is like climbing a mountain that moves”, according to a spokesman for Dutch salvage company Smit International.
The attempt Monday to tow the ship will be the fourth and final effort.
“In this case… we will identify the point of grounding and time expected for beaching”, De Oliveira said, “and we will accompany the vessel to the end”.