A fuel-laden Dutch cargo ship that was at risk of running aground was safely secured to two tugboats, Norwegian officials said, averting fears it could spill hundreds of tonnes of oil into the sea and cause an environmental disaster.
The Eemslift Hendrika was abandoned at sea on Monday after being caught in a heavy storm off the Norwegian coast. Its 12 crew members – some of whom jumped into the sea before being rescued by helicopter – abandoned the 111.6-metre vessel amid fears it could capsize.
Norway's coastal authority said that if Wednesday's salvage operation had not succeeded, the Hendrika would probably have run aground overnight.
"Tow lines have now been established between the stricken vessel and the tugs. The risk of a grounding has been averted," the officials said.
The ship is carrying 350 tonnes of heavy oil and 50 tonnes of diesel in its tanks and was listing badly after some of its cargo shifted during the rough weather.
As part of the rescue operation, experts were lowered on to the Hendrika to help secure it. The ship will now be towed to a nearby Norwegian port.