Iranian Oil Tanker Explodes in East China Sea as Dozens Remain Missing


The Sanchi was carrying almost 1 million barrels of ultra-light oil when it collided Saturday evening with a freighter 160 miles off the coast and caught fire.

Iranian oil tanker "Sanchi" which collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea on Saturday is still on fire after several days.

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

He said that Chinese authorities turned down an offer from the Japanese Coast Guard to help, saying it would ask for help when needed.

"Since the vessel's engine room is not directly affected by the fire and is about [46 feet] underwater, there is still hope", spokesman Mohsen Bahrami told the Associated Press (AP).

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Chinese firefighters spent Thursday struggling to extinguish the blaze as criticism mounted in Iran over whether enough was being done to locate dozens of its missing crew members.

China's transport ministry said Thursday evening the Panamanian-flagged 274-meter (899-foot) tanker remained on fire, adding two ships had spent the day spraying the vessel with retardant foam.

Bad weather at the sea has made the rescue and cleanup efforts hard.

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

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra-light that becomes highly volatile when exposed to air and water, to South Korea.

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South Korean authorities have said that the flames could last for up to a month given the consequences of previous oil spills.

It is the second crash by an Iranian oil tanker to take place in 18 months, after an Iranian supertanker crashed with a container ship in the Singapore Strait back in July 2016.

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

Chinese media has shared footage of oil tanker Sanchi puffing black clouds of smoke as rescue boats try to douse the flames.

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