Disaster alert from stricken oil tanker in East China Sea

Ministry of Transport firefighting boats work to put on a blaze on the oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China. Rescue ships looking for missing crew members from

Chinese authorities battling to prevent an environmental disaster after a collision between an Iranian tanker and a cargo ship said on Wednesday no major oil spill has been detected, but 31 sailors remained missing.

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 was carrying almost 1 million barrels of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil, when it collided on Saturday evening with a freighter 257 kilometres from Shanghai and caught fire.

Thirty-two crew members, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, went missing after the tanker carrying 136,000 tonnes of oil condensate from Iran to South Korea collided with a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter and caught fire on Saturday in waters about 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze River's estuary.

Chinese authorities had on Monday warned that the vessel could explode.

The CF-Crystal had been transporting food from the United States to the Chinese province of Guangdong, the China's Ministry of Transport said, adding that its 21 crew members has all been rescued.

The ship remains at risk of exploding and sinking due to spilled oil as the fire raged for a fifth day, the Ministry of Transportation said in a statement on Thursday.

Bad weather at the sea has made the rescue and cleanup efforts hard.

Operated by Iran's National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), the vessel was taking light crude oil condensate to South Korea.

There is still hope of finding survivors after an Iranian oil tanker burst into flames following a collision in the East China Sea, the tanker's owners have said. Shana said the oil had been purchased by South Korean customers.

Chinese media has shared footage of oil tanker Sanchi puffing black clouds of smoke as rescue boats try to douse the flames.

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