IN PICTURES: France pays tribute to ocean rescuers killed in storm

Thousands of people from all over France came to pay tribute to the three ocean rescuers who were killed in a storm off the coast of Les Sables-d'Olonne last week.

IN PICTURES: France pays tribute to ocean rescuers killed in storm
SNSM rescuers take part in the emotional farewell. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

SNSM Rescuers proceed with the memorial service for the three rescuers who lost their life. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

The three local men died after their lifeboat capsized while they were coming to the assistance of a fisherman off the coast of Sables-d'Olonne, starting point for the round-the-world Golden Globe yacht race. Four other rescuers managed to swim to safety.

The body of the fisherman, a retiree who was shrimping to boost his pension, has not been found.

Thousands gathered for the memorial service. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday posthumously awarded the volunteers the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest civilian honour. The accident was the deadliest to hit the French ocean rescue service SNSM in over 30 years and plunged the sea-faring community into mourning.

Moments before the boat capsized. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

A huge crowd took part in a silent march on Monday to the beach where the wrecked rescue boat was brought ashore. Many carried a single red or white rose which they planted in the sand.

Red and White roses laid down on the sand to pay tribute to the fallen rescuers. Photo: Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

A large group of SNSM volunteers, wearing trademark luminous orange jackets led the march and were applauded by residents for their service.

Sailors and fishermen were also out in force, with a flotilla of around 100 boats, backed by a naval vessel, firing flares and sounding their sirens. Around 15,000 took part in the ceremony, according to local authorities.

SNSM rescuers, fishermen and sailors sail their boats out in tribute. Photo:Sebastian Solum-Gomes/AFP

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Norwegian authorities tow stray cargo ship to safety

Norwegian maritime authorities said late Wednesday that they had begun towing a Dutch cargo ship that was drifting dangerously towards the coast after the crew were forced to abandon it.

Norwegian authorities tow stray cargo ship to safety
JRRC South Norway / AFP

The 12-man crew of the “Eemslift Hendrika” was rescued Monday in a challenging two-stage operation after they issued a distress call while steaming from Bremerhaven in Germany to the Norwegian port of Kolvereid.

The cargo ship was carrying several smaller vessels, and began to list after high winds and huge waves displaced some of its cargo.

The “Eemslift Hendrika” also suffered an engine failure and started drifting towards the Norwegian coastline.

WATCH: Norwegian Rescue services evacuated crew from ship adrift at sea 

Eight of its crew members were airlifted by helicopter from the cargo ship’s deck by Norwegian rescue services but the last four had to jump into
the water to be plucked from the sea.

Video images showed strong waves rocking the ship as it listed to the starboard (right) side.

Towing operations were due to have begun Thursday, but the ship deviated from its predicted trajectory and drifted even closer towards the coast,
prompting maritime authorities to rush into action.

“The tow is now attached,” the Norwegian Coastal Administration(Kystverket) said on its website late Wednesday. “The risk of grounding has
been averted.”

On Thursday, the “Eemslift Hendrika” was being towed slowly towards the Norwegian port of Alesund and Kystverket said “no particular challenges” had been encountered overnight.