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.
Chinese authorities had on Monday warned that the vessel could explode. Meanwhile, search and cleanup efforts have been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that have completely consumed the tanker and surrounding waters, CCTV reported.
The oil tanker, the Sanchi, was transporting around one million barrels of condensate, a lighter version of crude oil, when it crashed with a Hong Kong-bound bulk carrier around 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai.
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Rescue crews were forced to retreat on Wednesday after a blast on the ship. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals. It is not clear whether the explosion will cause the boat to sink.
The Sanchi tanker remains at risk of exploding and sinking due to spilled oil as the fire raged for a fifth day, China's Transport Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Photos distributed by the South Korean government showed the tanker on fire and shrouded in thick black smoke.
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. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident is not known.
The 164,154 dwt Sanchi, carrying 136,000 mt or 960,000 barrels of South Pars condensate, caught fire late Saturday after a collision with another vessel in the East China Sea.
The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations -run International Maritime Organization.
Hassan Qashqavi, an Iranian deputy foreign minister, told the official Islamic Republic News Agency there was still a chance that some of the crew on the Sanchi may have survived.
National Iranian Tanker Company spokesman Mohsen Bahrami said it was "likely" rescuers would find survivors among the 31 missing crew members on the Sanchi vessel.
"We have no information on their fate", he said Sunday.
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