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Oil tanker still ablaze, search for missing crew continues

12 January 2018, 10:09 | Taylor George

Oil tanker still ablaze, search for missing crew continues

Oil tanker still ablaze, search for missing crew continues

The ship, the Panama-registered Sanchi tanker, was carrying Iran-produced condensate, a highly flammable ultra-light crude, to deliver to South Korea when it collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea, on Saturday January 9, 2018.

Chinese media has shared footage of oil tanker Sanchi puffing black clouds of smoke as rescue boats try to douse the flames. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.

Right after the hit, the tanker spilled oil and burst into flames.

"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. The cargo ship reportedly suffered damage but all crew members were rescued.

The 21 Chinese crew members of the CF Crystal vessel, which had been carrying grain from the United States, were rescued.

Details on how the collision happened are not yet known but emergency teams are now in the area to help with the rescue and clean-up efforts.

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

South Korea is one of several nations that have sent rescue teams to help put out the fire.

The National Iranian Tanker Co., which carried internationally-credited insurance, said it had formed an emergency committee to investigate the cause of the incident.

An official in Iran's Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and confirmed that 30 of the tanker's 32 crew members were Iranians.

The weather has also hindered efforts to extinguish the fire on the Iranian ship, which has been alight for three days. 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 metric tons (150,000 tons, or almost 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities, who have dispatched three ships to clean the spill. The ship belongs to the Iranian company but was rented by a company in South Korea.



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