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12:03pm UK, Wednesday April 04, 2012
An operation to refloat a stricken cargo ship which ran aground in rough seas, sparking the rescue of seven crew members, is due to begin later.
There are fears fuel could leak from the ship (pic: Dave Stafford)
Salvage and counter-pollution experts will assess the damage to the vessel after it hit rocks near Colwyn Bay in North Wales.
The Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the cargo ship was in one piece following Tuesday’s incident. But there are growing concerns that it could begin to leak some of its 40,000 litres of fuel.
The 82-metre ship, registered in Antigua and Barbuda, is laden with limestone.
Dave and Sue Stafford saw the ship run aground from their home overlooking the jetty.
“It was like watching a horror film,” he said.
“The ship loaded with stone tried to set sail but the wind was too strong and blew the ship into the stones on shore.”
Two lifeboats and helicopters from the Royal Navy and RAF were involved in the rescue of the Polish crew.
The incident happened as the Welsh coast was battered by Gale-Force Nine winds and five-metre swells.
Five of the seamen were rescued by a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter scrambled from RNAS Prestwick.
But the aircraft developed a problem with its winch, forcing rescue co-ordinators to send out a second helicopter from RAF Leconfield to collect the remaining two crew members.
The Welsh Government said it was “closely monitoring” the situation and being kept fully informed of developments.
During the five-hour operation the A55 was closed to allow emergency workers safe access to the vessel.
All-weather lifeboats from Llandudno and Rhyl were also launched at 8.30pm to offer assistance to the rescued crew, the MCA said.