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Ferry freed after running aground at France's Calais port
[CALAIS, France] A ferry with more than 300 people on board ran aground Sunday in high winds at Calais in northern France, interrupting traffic in one of Europe's busiest passenger ports but causing no injuries.
Having been stranded for several hours, the P&O vessel was secured and passengers were finally able to disembark.
A spokeswoman for the shipping company Karine Warnault told AFP they had been "taken care of" with "drinks and food".
The ferry, The Pride of Kent, ran aground around noon after it hit a gangway while making to leave for Dover, its destination in Britain.
"When they (the ferries) leave their berths, the boats have to come out in reverse," president of the port Jean-Marc Puissesseau told AFP.
"It was while reversing that the Pride of Kent was probably hit by a gust." P&O said the ship "was pushed to the other side of the harbour".
The prefecture said there were 208 passengers aboard plus 105 crew for 313 people in total. The ship was also transporting 74 lorries, a coach and 36 other vehicles.
Two tug boats had been trying to pull the ferry free, said an AFP correspondent at the scene, but winds gusting at up to 110 kilometres (70 miles) per hour were making the task difficult.
The final operation needed a further three more powerful tugs, which arrived late afternoon from Dunkirk and Boulogne-sur-mer.
Sea traffic between Calais and Dover was interrupted all day, but resumed partially late in the afternoon.
During the operations, more than ten ships were forced to wait for several hours offshore, before being allowed to enter port.
More than nine million passengers used Calais to cross the English channel in 2016, according to official numbers.