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Rescue teams secure drifting Dutch freighter off Norway

HELSINKI (AP) – Despite rough seas, a joint Norwegian-Dutch rescue operation managed to bring an abandoned Dutch freighter off the coast of Norway under control and was towing it to port on Thursday.

Norwegian officials said the rescue operation of the Eemslift Hendrika, a Dutch-registered vessel designed to carry large boats, was completed early Thursday and the ship was slowly being towed to the western town of Alesund.

The ship’s crew, made up of 12 people, were rescued by helicopter on Monday evening after a power failure in its main engine. The Norwegian Coastal Administration, based in Alesund, launched a rescue operation on Wednesday evening, as it became clear that rough seas could crash the adrift ship onto shore.

The ship has significant amounts of diesel and fuel in its tanks, which could have caused an environmental disaster. Norwegian maritime authorities issued an emergency alert on Wednesday evening and began preparations in the event of an oil spill.

The Eemslift Hendrika was adrift in the area where the North Sea and the Norwegian Sea meet. Rescue experts were taken aboard the ship on Wednesday to tie tow ropes to the waiting tugs.

A large boat aboard the deck of the 6-year-old freighter fell in rough seas on Tuesday, but was found by the Norwegian Coast Guard and secured to another tug.

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