Oil leaking from blazing tanker could cause disaster

China | Jan 10, 2018
China raced to contain oil leaking from an Iranian tanker stricken off its eastern coast amid warnings the burning ship could spark an environmental disaster.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil when it collided with a cargo ship on Saturday and erupted in flames 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

If all the cargo from the Panamanian-flagged 274-meter tanker spills, it would be the biggest oil slick from a ship in decades and could kill marine life across a vast area, analysts have said. The transport ministry said the vessel was still burning yesterday.

"With the ship on fire, it is expected that much of this condensate oil will burn off rather than enter the water," Greenpeace East Asia said.

"However, if the ship sinks before the oil burns off, the cleanup procedure would be extremely difficult. What is important now is to understand how much of that oil has burned off, and how much is leaking into the sea."

Authorities widened the search yesterday for 31 missing crew members, with 13 search-and-rescue vessels in action. Rescuers were battered by rain, wind and waves.

The Sanchi was on its way to South Korea when it collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter that was transporting grain.

The Crystal's 21 Chinese crew members were rescued, but most of the 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis from the Sanchi are still missing.


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