Fuel leaks off cargo ship beached off French coast

December 16, 2011 - 11:51 AM
France Weather

In this image made available by France's Marine Nationale, the cargo ship TK Bremen is seen stranded on a beach near Erdeven, France, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011. High winds have beached a cargo ship on France's jagged Atlantic coast and some of the 220 tons of fuel on board are leaking and threatening a local beach, the local prefecture says. (AP Photo/Mael Prigent, Marine Nationale)

ERDEVEN, France (AP) — High winds have beached a cargo ship on France's jagged Atlantic coast and some of the 220 tons of fuel on board are leaking and threatening a local beach.

The 19-member crew of the "TK Bremen" was evacuated by helicopter early Friday as the vessel ran aground off Erdeven beach in southern Brittany, on the northwest coat of France.

The prefecture of the Morbihan region said in a statement a kilometer-long (0.6 mile) strip of fuel was headed towards the beach. A giant nature preserve of dunes and wildlife runs through Erdevan, one of many small coastal towns that attracts tourists for its natural beauty.

The local government warned people to stay indoors as rescuers pumped fuel from the hold of the Maltese flagged ship in a bid to empty it.

The French electric company said Friday some 320,000 homes were without electricity as winds of up to 130 kilometers per hour (81 mph) blew across France, triggering alerts in numerous regions. Most of the outages were in the country's west, but some areas in the east and southeast were hit as the storm moved across France.

On France's eastern border, the Swiss Alps were expected to see hurricane-force winds and heavy snow later.

France's train authority, SNCF, said traffic was hobbled in Brittany and at one point all but paralyzed in the Pays-de-la-Loire, further south, just as classes ended for the Christmas season and many people were setting off on vacation.