A 333-foot Spanish cargo ship broke in two on a jetty in heavy surf Wednesday near the French port town of Anglet.
The empty ship was making its way to port to take on a load when its engine failed, leaving the vessel adrift. Attempts to restart the power plant were unsuccessful, and a mayday was issued. All 12 crewmembers were hoisted from the ship by two helicopters.
When the ship broke apart, the bow portion washed onto the beach and the stern section remained on the jetty. Photos of the accident circulated worldwide.
A maritime pollution alert was issued when the ship began to leak fuel, according to published reports. Patrick Dallennes, a local government prefect, told Reuters the ship had between 120 and 160 cubic meters of fuel (31,700 to 42,270 gallons) in its tanks at the time of the incident.
The ship typically carries fertilizer, according to reports.