Search continues as 31 still missing in Iranian tanker explosion

This handout from the Transport Ministry of China taken on January 7, 2018 and released on January 8, 2018 shows the Chinese firefighting vessel “DONGHAIJIU 117” spraying water on the burning oil tanker Sanchi at sea off the coast of eastern China. The Iranian oil tanker ablaze off the Chinese coast is at risk of exploding or sinking, authorities said on January 8, as they reported there was no sign of survivors 36 hours after the vessel erupted in flames. Handout / TRANSPORT MINISTRY OF CHINA / AFP

• IMO to investigate accident
Search and rescue operations continues as a body of one of the 32 missing mariners has been found on board the Iranian tanker Sanchi burning off China’s eastern coast.

The Ports and Maritime Organisation (PMO) of Iran, which disclosed this on Monday, said the identity of the deceased mariner is yet to be determined and activities are underway to organise the transfer of the body to the Port of Shanghai.

The fire onboard the Panama-flagged tanker continues raging and fears have been raised that the vessel might explode and sink, state broadcaster China Central Television informed citing Chinese officials.

However, PMO Head, Mohammad Rastaad, said it was unlikely the tanker would be lost.

Efforts are underway to extinguish the fire, but it is very difficult to approach the vessel due to the fierceness of the fire, poisonous gases, and black smoke billowing from the tilted oil tanker.

PMO has deployed a team to the scene to carry out the initial assessments of the situation, and an investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident.

The tanker belonging to the National Iranian Tanker Company, carrying 136,000 metric tonnes of condensate, was en route from Iran to South Korea, when it collided with a Hong Kong-flagged CF Crystal.

Due to the collision, an explosion ripped through the tanker, which continues to burn thereafter.

CF Crystal did not sustain major damage in the collision, and its 21 crew members are reported to be safe, according to China’s Transport Ministry.

The Chinese rescue teams are working round the clock to put out the fire, curb the pollution, and find potential survivors.

The South Korean Marine Police Agency, and the U.S. Navy have joined the rescue efforts as well.

Commenting on the incident, IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, said the organisation is monitoring the unfolding situation, and is ready to offer any technical assistance that may be needed.

“In the longer term, it is expected that there will be a full investigation into this incident, and that the results and findings will be brought to IMO so that we can do whatever may be necessary to reduce the chances of such an incident happening again,” Lim added.

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