Firefighting efforts resume on burning tanker off China

Smoke is seen from Panama-registered Sanchi tanker carrying Iranian oil that caught ablaze after it collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea. China's Ministry of Transport  via REUTERS

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.

The Iranian oil tanker that caught fire after colliding with a Hong Kong cargo ship on Saturday in the East China Sea, could burn for as long as one month.

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.

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Dozens of rescue boats battled strong winds, high waves and poisonous fumes to locate 31 missing sailors and tame the ship fire, amid growing concerns the ship may explode or sink, said a ministry official.

Parts of the listing Sanchi are below the water line and shielded by the fire, and cool enough for any potential survivors, the diplomat said earlier this week.

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 shipment, destined for Panama, was worth around $60 million.

The Chinese government said late on Tuesday it had not found a "large-scale" oil leak, and the condensate was burning off or evaporating so quickly that it would leave little residue - less than 1 percent - within five hours of a spill.

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Chinese state media CCTV showed footage on Monday of boats dousing the flames with water as plumes of thick dark smoke continued to billow from the tanker.

He said that Chinese authorities turned down an offer from the Japanese Coast Guard to help, saying it would ask for help when needed.

It is the second crash by an Iranian oil tanker to take place in 18 months, after an Iranian supertanker crashed with a container ship in the Singapore Strait back in July 2016.

Park said it's unlikely the oil will spread to South Korea at the moment because the tanker has moved 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the southeast.

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