Iranian oil tanker in East China Sea could burn for a month

Iranian oil tanker in East China Sea could burn for a month

Although the full damage of the explosion remains unclear, the incident is just the latest setback for the multi-national rescue operation involving Chinese, South Korean, and American authorities working to locate the 31 missing crew members.

The Chinese government has confirmed that dozens of rescue boats are at sea trying to control the fire, as the oil tanker continues to burn for the third day.

The tanker Sanchi was carrying nearly 1 million barrels of condensate, an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil, to South Korea. The ministry official said authorities suspect the tanker caught fire as soon as it hit the freighter carrying grain.

Since then, the Panama-registered tanker Sanchi has been ablaze and drifting in the waters between Shanghai and southern Japan.

Photos on the Chinese Ministry of Transportation's microblog showed thick black smoke pouring from the ship on Thursday morning.

The ministry reported that 14 vessels were searching for the missing sailors in the tanker's vicinity before the explosion.

Intense flames, bad weather and poor visibility have hampered rescue efforts.


A total of 32 crew members, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, were on board the oil tanker at the time of the collision.

The tanker was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, a highly flammable ultra-light crude, to South Korea, but it's unlikely the spill will reach the country's shores.

If that happens, it would potentially expel the tanker's bunker fuel, or the heavy fuel oil that powers a ship's engines.

Other relatives said they thought the fire should have been extinguished by now.

"Spilled oil covering the ship body and its surrounding water is still burning, which leaves Sanchi at risk of exploding and sinking", said the ministry in the statement.

The 21 Chinese crew membesr of the Crystal, which did not burst into flames, were all rescued.

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