Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iranian oil tanker rocked by explosion off China, rescue efforts suspended

Iranian oil tanker rocked by explosion off China, rescue efforts suspended

So far, only one body from the 32-person crew has been recovered.

Rabiei as the head of the committee to follow-up the case of the tanker accident off Chinese coast.

A stricken Iranian oil tanker which is on fire in the East China Sea could burn for as long as one month, South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries says.

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 ministry official said the authorities suspected the tanker caught fire as soon as it hit the freighter. Rescuers have found the body of one Iranian crew member and rescued another 21 Chinese nationals from the bulk carrier.

The cause of the collision is still unclear.

After Iran said Wednesday there was still a chance for survivors, media reports said parts of its tanker ablaze off the coast of China had exploded.

It was equivalent to about 1 million barrels and worth about $US60 million.

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Cleanup and rescue ships have faced toxic fumes, rain and windy conditions as they scrambled to find survivors and avoid a massive oil slick since Saturday's incident.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations -run International Maritime Organization. The ship belongs to the Iranian company but was rented by a company in South Korea. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co.

"We have no information on their fate", he said Sunday.

Mr Sung-dong said it was unlikely the oil would spread to South Korea because the tanker had moved 100 kilometres to the south-east.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total.

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.

Iranian officials earlier in the day held out hope that some members of the crew were still alive, as some of the submerged sections of the Sanchi tanker could be cool enough to stay alive.

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