A Spanish cargo ship has slammed into a jetty and split in two in choppy Atlantic Ocean waters off southwestern France. The 12-man crew was evacuated from the striken vessel by military helicopter.

The hold of the 100-metre ship, the Luno, was empty when the accident occurred along the coast of the town of Anglet, and a small amount of fuel was spilling into the water, officials said. The ship, which typically carries fertiliser, had been heading to a nearby port to load up with cargo when its engine failed and the rough waves carried it into the jetty.

The cargo ship's stern half drifted onto the shore, while the bow remained stuck on the rocky jetty.

France's west coast has been battered by high winds and waves in recent days.