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Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Russian ship edges back to safety
Tug and Bothnia Stone
A tug helps the badly listing Bothnia Stone
A cargo ship has anchored in Torbay after a major rescue operation in heavy seas off the South Devon Coast.

The Cypriot-registered Bothnia Stone lost power and sent out a mayday which was picked up by Brixham Coastguards on Friday night.

It had to shed more than 1,000 cubic metres of wood into the sea as it listed badly in storm force nine winds.

Accompanied by lifeboats from Plymouth, Guernsey and Alderney and a rescue helicopter the vessel made its way into harbour at approximately 0800 on Saturday.

The Russian freighter's crew had managed to restart the ship's engines after it became stranded during gales in the English Channel.

They sent a mayday call at 2150 BST Friday saying the ship's engines had stopped after being flooded with sea water 25 miles south of Start Point, Devon.

The considerable amount of timber in the water...poses a threat to passing shipping

Rodger Brimacombe, Coastguard watch manager

However, the 20-strong crew ignored coastguard requests to be winched off the vessel and instead managed to restart their engines.

The crew dumped more than 1000 cubic metres of timber, which helped to reduced the list on the boat from 40 to 20 degrees.

Shipping threat

Coastguard watch manager Rodger Brimacombe said: "The French Coastguard are warning shipping of the dangers posed by the timber, and our colleagues in Falmouth Coastguard are also making similar warning broadcasts in their area."

The Coastguard and Plymouth lifeboat were sent out to assist and a rescue helicopter was shadowing the boat to safety.

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The BBC's Rebecca Wills
"She was listing at a 45 degree angle"

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