By Jite Eriabie
An explosion has been reported Wednesday on board the Iranian tanker Sanchi, which has been burning for four days off the eastern coast of China.
Due to the explosion, the 14 rescue vessels scavenging the area for potential survivors had to retreat. 31 mariners of the 32 members of Sanchi’s crew remain unaccounted for. The body of one crew member has been recovered.
Local authorities warned earlier that there is a danger of the ship exploding, breaking into half and sinking, resulting in a major oil spill.
Efforts to put out the fire continue to be underway for the fourth day since the collision between the tanker and a Hong Kong-flagged bulker CF Crystal.
The efforts have largely been hampered by the fire and thick smoke billowing from the stricken vessel, along with harsh weather conditions.
It is estimated that the fire could burn for a period ranging from two weeks to a month, Reuters reported earlier citing an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The ill-fated tanker, owned by Bright Shipping Ltd and managed by National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC), is loaded with 136,000 tons of Iranian crude oil.
CF Crystal has berthed in Zhoushan since the incident where the maritime authorities will launch an investigation into the collision.
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