Rescuers have begun towing a cargo ship that had been adrift for five days and was threatening to run aground in southwest France.

Broadcast images showed the dramatically listing, 164-meter (538-foot) Modern Express being towed by another ship via a cable on Monday afternoon. It was 45 kilometers (28 miles) off the French coast. The rescuers' first goal is to tow it farther offshore before eventually looking for a safe harbor.

High winds and six-meter (20-foot) waves made weekend rescue attempts impossible.

The crew on the Panama-registered vessel was evacuated after issuing a distress call last Tuesday. The ship is carrying 3,600 tons of wood and equipment.