Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Burning oil tanker firm hopeful of survivors

31 Crew Members Still Missing After Oil Tanker Collision Iranian oil tanker in East China Sea could burn for a month, South Korean official says
Bennie Garza | 13 January, 2018, 08:45

China's ministry of transport said the crew - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis - were missing, with rescue efforts hampered by the fierce blaze.

"We still hope that at least some of them - and I hope all - are inside a protected part of the tanker", he said on Iranian state television.

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

If that happens, it would potentially expel the tanker's bunker fuel, or the heavy fuel oil that powers a ship's engines. Authorities have confirmed that the people missing are all from the oil tanker.

The tanker collided on Saturday with a ship carrying grain from the USA near Shanghai, China.

The collision has raised concerns that there could be a major oil spill in the waters.

Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown reports from Eastern China.

Ships and aircraft from South Korea and the U.S. are aiding in rescue efforts, which have been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that have engulfed the tanker and surrounding waters.

It's the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co.in less than a year and a half. Rescuers on Tuesday found a body believed to be a crewmember from the Iranian-operated tanker but there has been no sign of survivors.

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

Chinese authorities had on Monday warned that the vessel could explode. They say experts on the scene think that no more than one percent of the condensate is on the surface of the water.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, equivalent to about 1 million barrels and worth some $60 million.

"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. The ship belongs to the Iranian company but was rented by a company in South Korea. By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

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