Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

China: Iran tanker explodes after colliding with Hong Kong freighter

Iran Tanker Which Caught Fire Off China Drifts Into Japan Economic Zone Says Coast Guard Rescue ships work to extinguish fire on Iranian tanker Sanchi in East China Sea
Bennie Garza | 12 January, 2018, 21:54

Mahmoud Abuli Ghasemabadi, the brother of missing Iranian sailor Ehasan Abuli Ghasemabadi, told the AP he and other families remained hopeful for good news.

An explosion rocked a stricken oil tanker off the coast of Shanghai yesterday, forcing maritime authorities to suspend firefighting and rescue efforts, Chinese officials said. The ministry official said authorities suspect the tanker caught fire as soon as it hit the freighter carrying grain.

"Since the vessel's engine room is not directly affected by the fire and is about [46 feet] under water, there is still hope", spokesman Mohsen Bahrami said late Tuesday.

"Vessels at the scene have to stop putting out the fire and withdraw back to (a safe distance)", China's ministry of transport said.

Dozens of rescue boats battled strong winds, high waves and poisonous fumes to comb a 900-square-nautical-mile (3,100-square-kilometre) area for 31 missing sailors and tame the fire, amid growing concerns the listing ship may explode or sink.

An NITC spokesperson had previously suggested China might be more concerned with stopping a major oil leak in waters important to their fishing industry than rushing to save crew members.

The body of a crew member was found on Monday in the water near the tanker, the ministry said.

Operated by Iran's National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), the vessel was taking light crude oil condensate to South Korea.

Search and rescue teams from the South Korean Coast Guard have been forced to stay as far as three miles away from the ferocious blaze.

There is still hope of finding survivors after an Iranian oil tanker burst into flames following a collision in the East China Sea, the tanker's owners have said.

"The problem is the ship's heavy bunker fuel", said Chauncey Naylor, a USA -based director of emergency response and training at Tyco Corp's oil-fire specialists Williams Fire & Hazard Control, which is not involved in the clean-up.

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