Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Stricken Iran's tanker drifts into Japan

Stricken Iran's tanker drifts into Japan

It collided with the freighter CF Crystal that was carrying grain from the United States about 184 kilometers off China's coast near Shanghai.

The ship, which has been ablaze for nearly a week since it collided with another vessel on Saturday night in the East China Sea, was about 286 km (178 miles) northwest of Sokkozaki on the island of Amami Oshima as of 0700 GMT on Friday, the Japan Coast Guard said in a statement.

The ministry said the body recovered Monday had yet to be identified but was wearing a protective suit created to withstand cold seawater.

The Iranian tanker, Sanchi, has been ablaze since it collided with Hong-Kong registered freight ship CF Crystal on Saturday night, 185 miles off China's coast near Shanghai.

But rescue efforts were still being hampered by "terrible" weather conditions and toxic gases from the burning oil which "pose a great danger to rescuers", the ministry said in a statement.

Editor's note: The video below contains profanity.

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 cause of the collision remains unclear.

Worldwide search efforts have involved numerous Chinese vessels, a South Korean coast guard vessel and a fixed-wing aircraft.

Dozens of the rescue boats were forced to retreat from dousing the tanker with foam on Wednesday due to an explosion.

As of Tuesday (9 January), search efforts were focused on a 900 square mile section of the East China Sea.

Iran's army will dispatch on Friday afternoon (January 12) a rescue team consisting of 12 professionals to China with the intention of helping the rescue mission of Iranian sailors. Prior to the Sanchi incident, NITC had a fleet of 65 tankers. A chartering manager at an Asian refiner said: "Now charterers will pay much more attention on the safety of the vessels". As a result of collision the communication with them was lost.

It's the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker less than a year and a half.

An official from South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries was quoted in a Reuters report as saying the fire could last for weeks.

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