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Capsized Cargo Ship Drifting in Rough Seas off French Coast

A cargo ship listing nearly 90 degrees in the water is drifting empty off the coast of France, as maritime rescue workers wait for the seas to calm.

The captain of the capsized Modern Express, sailing with a load of wood in the Bay of Biscay, 180 miles off the coast of France, sent out a distress call Tuesday and its crew of 22 was evacuated by Spanish helicopters.

Image: A handout picture from the French Navy shows the Modern Express, without crew, drifting in the Bay of Biscay.
A handout picture from the French Navy shows the Modern Express, without crew, drifting in the Bay of Biscay. MARINE NATIONALE/HANDOUT / EPA

France's coastal authority said the ship, with its deck nearly in the water, was being prepared Friday for towing. A team of four experts are to board the listing vessel later in the day amid swells up to 16 feet.

The ship was travelling from Gabon, in Africa, to the northern French port of Le Havre.