Kuzma Minin vessel was stranded near Falmouth with 18 crew members on board.

A Russian cargo ship stranded near a Cornish beach has been tugged to safety in a dramatic high-tide operation.

Emergency services declared a major incident after the 16,000-tonne Kuzma Minin grounded off Falmouth’s Gyllyngvase beach before dawn.

Shortly after 2pm a live video stream showed the 180-metre boat being tugged out to sea by three Falmouth harbour tugs. The boat’s 18 Russian crew remained on board.

For more than an hour, black smoke could be seen billowing from the ship’s funnel as its engines were fired up to help the straining tugs attempting to pull it back out to sea.

The tugs managed to shift the bow of the boat almost 90 degrees, but the stern remained beached for almost an hour after high tide at 1.15pm. There were several reports that tug lines snapped during the operation.

As the tide began to turn, spectators cheered as the boat’s stern was pulled clear of the beach.

The coastguard said the Kuzma Minin, which was carrying no cargo, grounded at 5.40am after dragging its anchor during strong winds.

At around 9am, a coastguard rescuer was winched from a helicopter on to the stranded ship, in a moment captured on video.

Coastguard video of Niall Hanson being lowered on to the Kuzma Minin

On BBC Radio Cornwall, Marc Thomas, the coastguard’s senior operations manager, said the boat appeared to be touching rocks but no pollution had been reported.

Speaking from the scene at 11.20am, Harry Dennis, a science and policy officer from Surfers Against Sewage, said part of the boat appeared to be free of the beach. “It is rocking with the waves, but it seems that the stern of the ship is still grounded,” he told the Guardian. “It has rotated so it looks as if the bow could be free.”

The vessel was reported to have set off from the port of Terneuzen in the Netherlands. Data from the shipping monitoring site Marine Traffic showed the Kuzma Minin started to move ashore just after 4am when southerly winds were gusting at around 55mph.

Falmouth’s former senior pilot captain David Barnicoat said the grounding occurred during “horrendous” winds.

He told BBC Radio Cornwall: “It’s a classic grounding in bad weather and strong winds. The wind overnight was pretty horrendous. Where I live I hadn’t heard wind like it for quite a few years.”

Of the ship, he said: “It sounds as if she dragged anchor and the engines may not have been ready or she may have had some other problem. Once that anchor breaks from the seabed and you start dragging then you have no control whatsoever.”

Jess Hughes, a Falmouth resident, described the weather on the Cornish coast as “extreme”.


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Fuente: www.theguardian.com ()

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Cornwall coastguards rescue grounded Russian cargo ship
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