Burning tanker carrying almost 1 million barrels of oil could explode

Burning tanker carrying almost 1 million barrels of oil could explode

- in Business

BEIJING— An oil tanker that caught fire after colliding with a freighter off China’s east coast is at risk of exploding and sinking, Chinese state media reported Monday.

Poor weather continued to hamper the rescue work, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said as authorities from three countries struggled to find dozens of missing crew members and contain oil spewing from the blazing wreck.

Search and cleanup efforts have also been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that have engulfed the tanker and surrounding waters, state-run CCTV reported.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided late Saturday with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

China, South Korea and the U.S. have sent ships and planes to search for the Sanchi’s crew. The remains of one of the 32 mariners on board was found on Monday afternoon, Iranian and Chinese officials confirmed.

The Sanchi’s cargo was estimated to be worth more than $60 million.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States to China, were rescued.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision. Ship tracking data shows the collision occurred in waters not frequently used by large vessels like tankers, dry-bulk carriers or container ships. Most ships travel either closer to the Chinese coast in the west or nearer to Japan in the east.

The Sanchi was carrying 150,000 tons — or nearly 1 million barrels — of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

Image: An oil-soaked bird affected by the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989

An oil-soaked bird is examined on an island in Alaska’s Prince William Sound after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.