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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fuel leaks off cargo ship beached off French coast (AP)

ERDEVEN, France – High winds beached a cargo ship on France's jagged Atlantic coast and some of the 220 tons of fuel on board leaked out, 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 coast of France.

The prefecture of the Morbihan region said in a statement that a kilometer-long (0.6 mile) strip of fuel was headed toward 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.

Heavy rains in low-lying areas and hurricane-force winds of up to 150 kilometers per hour (93 mph) lashed neighboring Switzerland, and train connections and boat services on some lakes in the Alpine country were disrupted. Swiss airports canceled or diverted dozens of flights — with more than 100 called off at Zurich's hub alone.

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