(Updates with transport minister saying hold was empty)
ANGLET, France Feb 5 A Spanish cargo ship broke
in two on Wednesday after hitting a sea wall off the
southwestern coast of France in high winds and was leaking some
fuel into the water, French officials said.
However the government said initial fears that the ship was
loaded with fertilisers were unfounded.
"It was an empty freight ship," Transport Minister Frederic
Cuvillier told BFM-TV television.
Two helicopters lifted a dozen crew members to safety, said
Jean Espilondo, the mayor of Anglet, a town near the French
border with Spain that is close to the scene of the incident.
"Everyone was evacuated. They appear to be safe and sound
and will be taken to hospital for checks," Espilondo told
The Luno had suffered engine problems before the incident,
Espilondo said. It was not immediately clear what volume of
fertiliser it was carrying.
Patrick Dallennes, a local government prefect, said the ship
had between 120-160 cubic metres of fuel in its tanks at the
time of the incident.
"For the moment the pollution is limited," he told Reuters.
(Reporting by Claude Cannellas; Writing by Brian Love; Editing
by Alison Williams and Mark John)