Burning oil tanker in East China Sea sinks

Burning oil tanker in East China Sea sinks

A huge fire broke out on an Iranian oil tanker days after it collided with a Chinese ship in the East China Sea.

An Iranian minister has rejected rumors suggesting that the United States had targeted the sunken Iranian oil tanker en route to South Korea.

The Sanchi was carrying almost 136,000 tonnes - equivalent to nearly one million barrels - of condensate, an ultra-light and extremely flammable type of crude oil.

"Oil spills from the ship are still burning" at the scene, China's transport ministry said Monday.

Iranian officials said on Sunday the remaining 29 crew members and passengers of the tanker were presumed dead.

Authorities and environmentalists have said it's too early to know the impact on fisheries, although Greenpeace said the area is spawning ground for bluefin leatherjacket and swordtip squid and the winter habitat of blue crab, chub mackerel and yellow croaker.

But Chinese officials say no large oil spill has been detected so far.

Another body, presumed to be one of Sanchi's sailors, was found on Jan 8.

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The Japanese Coast Guard said on Friday it was about 290km off the island's coast and was drifting at about 2.2km/h.

The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" burns after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast, on January 8.

The four-member salvage team wore respirators as they boarded the Sanchi, China's Xinhua state news agency said.

The black box data recorder is created to withstand extreme shock, impact, pressure and heat, and could reveal more information about the incident. But the team was forced to leave the ship after just half an hour because the wind shifted and "thick toxic smoke" had complicated the operation.

"The collision and condensate oil spillage will have an impact on the livelihood of fish, but I believe it will affect those marine lives mostly on the surface level of the sea and not those at the deeper part of the sea", explained the chief ship officer.

The 120 sq km (46 sq mile) oil slick is thought to be made up of heavy fuel that was used to power the vessel.

The size of the from the ship and the extent of the environmental harm were not known, but the disaster has the potential to be the worst since 1991 when 260,000 tonnes of oil leaked off the Angolan coast.

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