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Two ships run aground by massive waves and gales off northwest British coast

LONDON - The coast guard says massive waves and violent winds battered two ships, forcing them aground during storms overnight off Britain's northwestern coast.

The coast guard successfully airlifted 23 people off a ferry that ran aground near England's Blackpool beach hours after a freak wave left it listing on its side Thursday night.

The "Riverdance" ran into trouble Thursday night and within 90 minutes three helicopters arrived to begin rescuing those on board the ferry, which carried cargo and passengers, and was listing at 45 degrees in 110 kilometre per hour winds and seven-metre waves at one point.

But coast guard spokesman Fred Caygill says the gale-force winds are hampering attempts to rescue the 14-member Spanish crew of a trawler on rocks off St. Kilda in Scotland's Western Isles.

The Spaniards are trapped on the rocks under a cliff at St. Kilda, an uninhabited volcanic archipelago 65 kilometres west of Benbecula.

The winds swirling around the cliff are making it difficult for a helicopter to approach the trawler "Spinning Dale".

"At the moment they're safe on vessel even if the helicopter can't reach them," Caygill said.

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