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Last Updated: Monday, 14 January 2008, 14:45 GMT
Tow plan for stricken cargo ship
Ice prince - pic courtesy of French coastguard
The vessel was heading for Egypt (pic courtesy of Coastguard)

Attempts will be made to tow back to shore a cargo ship which was abandoned off the Devon coast on Sunday night.

Twenty crew members were rescued after the Greek-registered Ice Prince got into difficulties about 35 miles off the Start Point.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokesman said salvors were starting to assess the vessel.

It has not been decided where the ship, which has shed most of its load of 5,260 tonnes of timber, will be taken.

MCA spokesman Fred Caygill said: "It depends where we can get her in."

Twelve of the crew were airlifted to Portland by coastguard helicopter and eight others were taken by the Torbay lifeboat to Brixham.

'Dark on board'

The ship is listing at 45 degrees in a traffic separation area within the international shipping lanes of the Channel.

Coastguards said most of the sawn timber cargo had gone overboard and they were mapping where it could end up on the English coast.

Ships are being warned to be on the look-out for any timber and the ship.

The MCA said an emergency call was made from the Ice Prince at about 1900 GMT on Sunday.

Rescued crew members: Pic Maritime and Coastguard Agency/PA Wire
Twelve crew were airlifted and eight others were taken by lifeboat

Crew reported that the ship, which was heading for Alexandria in Egypt, was rolling heavily in very poor weather, 35 miles south east of Start Point.

At 2015 GMT, the MCA said the coastguard received word that a 41-year-old Greek crewman "was in need of urgent medical attention after he had broken his leg in the darkness on board the vessel".

RNLI lifeboats from Salcombe and Torbay were launched and the Royal Navy warship HMS Cumberland, which was nearby, offered its assistance.

The MCA said the seas were rough and the winds were up to force 7, but there were no reports of any cargo being lost.

Mr Caygill said: "Twelve crew were airlifted by the Coastguard helicopter late yesterday evening to the shoreline whilst the RNLI Torbay and Salcombe lifeboats took off the remaining eight crew.

The crew are all volunteers and you can only imagine how hard this rescue was
Spencer Gammond, RNLI

"No further injuries apart from a few bumps and bruises have been reported.

"The crew taken off by helicopter have been found some accommodation locally whilst the injured man has been taken to Dorchester Hospital."

Spencer Gammond, from the RNLI, said lifeboat crews operated "at the very limit" to evacuate the ship.

"To stage a rescue like this they would have needed to position their lifeboat right next to the ship and take the crew off one by one," Mr Gammond said.

"Our lifeboat is 17m long and the ship they were helping was more than 100m long, had no power and was listing in force 7 winds.

"The crew are all volunteers and you can only imagine how hard this rescue was."


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