Weather Hampers Efforts To Put Out Tanker Blaze In East China Sea

Jan 9, 2018
Originally published on January 9, 2018 6:07 am

Bad weather is hampering efforts to contain a fire and oil spill off the coast of Shanghai three days after a collision between an Iranian-owned oil tanker and a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier in the East China Sea.

The Panamanian-flagged tanker, Sanchi, is carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultralight version of crude oil.

The two vessels collided about 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai, the Chinese commercial hub.

China's Ministry of Transport says 10-foot waves, strong winds and rain were all contributing to difficulties in extinguishing the fire and finding the 31 tanker crew members still missing – 29 Iranians and two Bangladeshis. The body of one Iranian crew member was found earlier.

Twenty-one Chinese nationals aboard the bulk carrier, CF Crystal, have been rescued.

Two South Korean coast guard officers tell Reuters that the flames were forcing them to stay as far as 3 miles away from the Sanchi.

"We can't grasp the level of oil contamination at this moment. The cargo is still on fire, so it is hard to figure out if oil is being spilled," Park Sung-dong, an official from South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, told Reuters.

According to the news agency, "Concerns were growing that the tanker may explode and sink while a flotilla of 13 search and rescue vessels comb a 900-square-nautical-mile area around the ship for the crew."

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