Chinese firefighters struggle to put out fire at stricken oil tanker

Xinhua Published: 2018-01-12 21:06:08
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Firefighters and marine salvation workers struggled on Friday to extinguish flames on a stricken oil tanker off the coast of Shanghai.

This handout picture taken and released on January 12, 2018 by the Transport Ministry of China shows the Chinese firefighting vessel "Donghaijiu 117" spraying foam on the burning oil tanker SANCHI at sea off the coast of eastern China. [Photo: VCG]

This handout picture taken and released on January 12, 2018 by the Transport Ministry of China shows the Chinese firefighting vessel "Donghaijiu 117" spraying foam on the burning oil tanker SANCHI at sea off the coast of eastern China. [Photo: VCG]

Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration said there is still a large fire on the Panama-registered oil tanker SANCHI. It is likely to explode and sink, the administration said at a press conference on Friday.

SANCHI, carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil from Iran, has been burning since it collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, about 160 nautical miles east of the Yangtze River estuary in Shanghai on Jan. 6.

Thirty-two crew members of the tanker, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, are missing.

Xie Qunwei, deputy director of the bureau, said Chinese rescuers have braved grave danger to approach the tanker. A severe fire broke out on the 274-meter tanker on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, he said.

"The oil tanker has been burning and it is already tilted to the right. By Friday noon, it had drifted over 141 nautical miles to the southeast and it is drifting south," said Xie.

More than 15 vessels are engaged in rescue work. One of the vessels has been reloaded with 100 tonnes of extinguishing materials and will arrive at the area on Saturday morning.

"It is highly likely that the tanker will explode and sink. There is intense toxic air from burning, and bad weather conditions have complicated rescue," he said.

China's Maritime Safety Administration has launched an investigation into the incident. The Hong Kong bulk freighter was berthed Wednesday at a pier in Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province, authorities said. 

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