Global News

Stricken Iranian oil tanker drifts into Japan's economic zone, coast guard says

Stricken Iranian oil tanker drifts into Japan's economic zone, coast guard says

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.

A stricken Iranian oil tanker drifted into Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Japan Coast Guard said Friday, as strong winds pushed the burning ship away from the Chinese coast.

Rescue crews were forced to retreat on Wednesday after a blast on the ship. Rescuers on Tuesday found a body believed to be a crewmember from the Iranian-operated tanker but there has been no sign of survivors.

Iran's Shana news agency reported that the Sanchi was managed by the National Iranian Tanker Company and that its cargo was worth around $60 million.

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.

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"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 reports on Thursday follow an explosion aboard the Sanchi, whose 32-member crew is still mostly missing.

Since the crash, the tanker has been billowing thick plumes of black smoke.

"For now, burning might be good for consuming the leaked oil, but there will be some remaining for which disposal will be hard", Lin Boqiang, director of the China Centre for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

Tanker Sanchi was on its way to South Korea carrying 136,000 tonnes of an ultra-light crude oil that becomes highly volatile when exposed to air and water. It also is almost colourless and odourless, which makes it hard to detect.


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