Burning oil tanker drifts into Japan's EEZ

Burning oil tanker drifts into Japan's EEZ

To date, at least 14 vessels have been involved in firefighting and search and rescue efforts in the incident, according to the Ministry of Transport.

The ship, which has been ablaze for nearly a week since the collision on January 6, is now about 286 kilometers northwest of the Japanese island of Amami Oshima, part of the Ryukyu chain that includes Okinawa, the coast guard said.

Hard weather and sea conditions have hampered search efforts in recent days with only one body recovered - that of an Iranian national that Sanchi'sowners National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) believe to be one of the vessel's crew. It had been handed over to the civil affairs bureau.

The press service of the Ministry of transport of the PRC announced that the Panamanian oil tanker SANCHI, which caught fire after a collision with a freighter in the East China sea, the explosion occurred.

The tanker Sanchi, run by Iran's top oil shipping operator, National Iranian Tanker Co, collided with the CF Crystal, carrying grain from the United States, about 160 nautical miles (300 km) off China's coast near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta.

The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra-light and highly volatile crude.

An official from South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries was quoted in a Reuters report as saying the fire could last for weeks.

Previous statements from China's transport ministry have said the toxicity of the smoke and fierce heat generated by the burning ultra-light crude oil condensate carried by Sanchi (see photo above and video below) has hampered rescue workers, who have been forced to wear biohazard "protective suits, protective masks and [use] gas testing equipment".

Hassan Qashqavi, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency there was still a chance that some of the crew on the Sanchi may have survived.

The ministry statement also confirmed a Japanese maritime police vessel had attended the fire.

Bunker fuel is the dirtiest kind of oil, extremely toxic when spilled, though much less explosive.

The report came after the vessel's owner, the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said Sanchi was unlikely to sink.

The fate of the remaining 31 sailors is not known.

Chinese media said the tanker was still on fire Tuesday and at risk of exploding.

The cause of the collision remains unclear. The body of a crew member was found on Monday in the water near the tanker.

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