Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Crew rescued from stricken barge

Dozens of crew members were rescued from a barge after three of the five wires anchoring it in position in the Solway Firth broke.

It is understood that lifeboats and a Sea King helicopter helped to evacuate 36 crew in storm conditions.

Six other crew members have remained on board to try to repair anchor cables and get the barge stationary again.

The barge RU 101 has been working on building the Robin Rigg wind farm midway between Dumfries and Galloway.

The alarm was raised early on Friday in gale force winds after the barge started drifting towards the pylons being installed for the wind farm.

The barge had been anchored to the sea bed by five wires - two of which broke away during heavy seas overnight and one early this morning.

'Sitting comfortably'

One of the support vessels managed to get a tow line on board and stopped it drifting.

A rescue helicopter from RAF Valley in Wales and the Workington lifeboat took off 36 of the 42-strong construction crew.

The skipper is reported to have said that the barge is now "sitting more comfortably".

Maryport Coastguards and a Sea King helicopter from RAF Valley are still standing by.

In September 2007, 36 crew members had to abandon a rig after it began listing in strong winds in the Solway Firth.

The jack-up rig Lisa A was being used to work on Robin Rigg, which will have 60 huge 420ft wind turbines when it is completed.

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