The vehicle carrier Modern Express is still adrift in the Bay of Biscay "with a very heavy list in rough seas", the French coastguard said in a statement, adding that "the list appears to be stabilised and the ship doesn't seem to be taking on water".

Video Update: Modern Express still adrift

It is drifting east at a speed of 1.3 knots and is currently 168 nautical miles (311 km) west of La Rochelle.

Two Spanish tugs have been hired by the salvage company contracted by the ship's owner and have joined the French tug Abeille Bourbon and a French frigate on station.

"For now, the very heavy list and the ship's movements have not allowed the necessary equipment to prepare an eventual recovery operation to be boarded safely".

Related news: WATCH: Crew of 22 sailors airlifted from Modern Express listing in rough seas