A 200m-long cargo ship has hit a barge full of rocks in the English Channel, as Storm Angus continues to batter the south coast of England.

Eleven of the 23 crew members are so far known to have been evacuated by helicopter after the ship got into difficulty off Samphire Hoe near Dover.

The RNLI said a tug from Boulogne was on its way to remove the ship, and lifeboats are standing by.

Storm Angus has lashed the south of England with high winds and rain.

‘Major incident’

A RNLI spokesman said of the stricken ship: “At this point there is no indication of any environmental leak concerning the cargo ship’s fuel.”

The tug was expected to be on site to secure the Saga Sky by late morning, and while the barge was taking on water it was not currently thought it would sink, the spokesman added.

Coastguard duty commander Steve Carson said: “The weather conditions this morning are particularly challenging and we have declared this a major incident.”

He said two helicopters were evacuating the crew.

Storm Angus – the first named storm of the winter – has brought gusts of up to 106mph, recorded 23 miles off the coast of Margate, while gusts hit 80mph at Langdon Bay, both in Kent.

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