Burning Iran tanker: Search for survivors resumes after blast


The front section of an Iranian oil tanker that has been on fire for days off the east China coast has exploded.

The Panamanian-registered Sanchin had a crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, Chinese state media reported.

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.

In pic: The Panama-registered Sanchi tanker is seen ablaze in open waters, after colliding with a Chinese bulk ship. China's Ministry of Transport said on Monday that a body had been recovered.

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On Thursday the Iranian Merchant Mariners Syndicate, an industry NGO, said it had written to Chinese authorities expressing frustration at the lack of progress in putting out the fire.

The Sanchi was carrying almost 1 million barrels of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil, when it collided Saturday evening with a freighter 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the Chinese coast and caught fire. The crew members of the cargo ship were all rescued after the collision.

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.

What caused Saturday's collision in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, remains unclear.

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Ships of such size generally come with sophisticated radar and other technologies aimed at preventing collisions.

The changes took place as the IG has created a protection and indemnity reinsurance framework, without having contributions from United States insurers, in an effort to bring back its coverage to a near pre-sanction level for the first time since impositions of global sanctions against Iran in mid-2012, according to sources familiar with the matter.

China, South Korea and the US have sent ships and planes to search for the Sanchi's crew, all of whom remain missing. "We are persistently working to put out the fire and rescue possible survivors".

Park Sung-dong, an official from South Korea's ministry of oceans and fisheries, said: "We can't grasp the level of oil contamination at this moment".

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Still, condensate is highly volatile when exposed to air and water, and concerns were growing the tanker could explode and sink.