Crew evacuated as Dutch cargo ship risks sinking off Norway

An unmanned Dutch cargo ship may be in danger of capsizing in heavy seas off the coast of Norway after its crew was evacuated following a distress call from the vessel.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration said Tuesday they have dispatched a coast guard ship to inspect the situation with the Eemslift Hendrika, which is listing and afloat without engine power on the Norwegian Sea 80 miles off the city of Alesund.

Video from the scene showed how the Norwegian Rescue Coordination Center evacuated some of the ship's 12 crew members by helicopters after they had jumped into the sea. The ship issued a distress call late Monday.

Maritime authorities said their focus now was to figure out how to stabilize the vessel so it wouldn’t sink while trying make sure the ship doesn’t crash into the shore. Surveillance aircraft were patrolling the area.

"We are optimistic but at the same time there are 15-meter (49-foot) high waves and strong winds. The weather conditions are extreme and the safety of personnel will always come first," emergency director Hannes-Petter Mortensholm at the Norwegian Coastal Administration told the VG newspaper.

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Norwegian public broadcaster NRK said the ship lost power in its main engine late Monday night. If the vessel sinks, Norwegian authorities are concerned that diesel and fuel oil could spill from its tanks.

Registered in the Netherlands, the Eemslift Hendrika was built in 2015. Its cargo was not immediately known.

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