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Spanish crews help save 22 sailors from stricken cargo ship 

The Spanish maritime service played a major role in the dramatic rescue of 22 sailors who were saved after their ship carrying 3,700 tons of wood and lorries titled dangerously on the rough Atlantic.

The crew was ordered to evacuate after sending out a distress signal in the Bay of Biscay when hit by huge 18 ft waves and gale force eight winds of up to 74 kilometres an hour.

Although the ship was in waters looked after by Britain, Spanish rescue helicopters offered to carry out the hazardous rescue.

The operation was led by the Falmouth Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre and happened 148 miles off Ortegal in La Coruña.

French ships also went to help the “Modern Express”, flying a Panama flag, which was titling 40 degrees and in real danger of sinking.

The captain of the ship sent out an SOS when it began to list 25 degrees and lost part of its load. It then continued to tilt, at which stage he issued the order to evacuate.

Sixteen of the crew members were hoisted to safety by helicopter and the remaining six by a fishing boat.

Miraculously, no-one was hurt though the rescued men were treated by members of the Red Cross on their arrival back at La Coruna and Celeiro.