Lifeboat called to stricken rig off Hartlepool

The rig rescue
Image caption There were fears the rig might be flooded by high tides

A drilling rig off the coast of Teesside was evacuated after two of its four legs became stuck on the seabed.

The vessel, which was carrying out survey work for a planned offshore wind farm, got into difficulty in the early hours of Tuesday off Hartlepool.

A tug and the Hartlepool lifeboat took 16 of the 19 crew to shore amid fears the rig might be flooded by high tides.

Three crew remained on a standby vessel and later managed to free the rig from the seabed.

None of the crew was injured.

'Life-threatening scenario'

The mobile platform - known as a jack-up rig - is able to stand on the sea floor by means of four extendable legs.

The owner of the platform, which is carrying out surveys for a wind farm in Tees Bay, is based in Belgium.

Humber Coastguard watch manager Drew Mahood said: "The initial evacuation was handled quickly and efficiently by the rig's own standby vessel.

"Without swift action the rig crew would certainly have been faced with a life-threatening scenario.

"As it is, most of them are now safely ashore and being looked after by their parent company."

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