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EghtesadOnline: The stricken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi keeps exploding, hampering efforts to extinguish the fire and rescue survivors, state media Xinhua said on Friday, citing the Chinese Ministry of Transport, as the blaze raged and worries grew the ship may break up and sink.

The weeklong rescue effort following the tanker’s collision with a freight ship on Saturday night has been roiled by poor weather, including three-meter high waves and strong winds, and toxic fumes from the burning oil, Reuters reported.

Dozens of the rescue boats were forced to retreat from dousing the tanker with foam on Wednesday due to an explosion.

Sanchi drifted into Japan's exclusive economic zone on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for Japan's Coastguard told Reuters on Friday, as strong winds pushed the burning ship away from the Chinese coast, Financial Tribune reported.

The ship was about 300 km northwest of Sokkozaki on the island of Amami Oshima as of Thursday afternoon, a spokesman from the Coastguard's 10th region based in Kagoshima said.

Amami Oshima is one of the northern islands in the Ryukyu islands chain that includes Okinawa.

The tanker Sanchi, owned by Iran's top oil shipping operator National Iranian Tanker Company, was carrying almost 1 million barrels of condensate, an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil, to South Korea.

It collided with the freighter CF Crystal that was carrying grain from the United States about 160 nautical miles (184 km) off China's coast near Shanghai.

The spokesman said Chinese authorities turned down an offer from the Japanese Coastguard to help, saying it would ask for help when needed.

The coastguard has sent patrol boats and aircraft to monitor the situation, he said.

According to China's state-owned China Central Television, the tanker drifted about 40 km to the south over the past two days, as of 9 a.m. local time on Friday.

About 14 rescue vessels are attempting to put out the fire and searching for missing crew members from the tanker, CCTV reported citing Shanghai Maritime Search and Rescue Centre.

The Sanchi had a crew of 32 sailors at the time of the collision. The body of a mariner suspected to be from the ship was recovered on Monday and sent to Shanghai for identification. The rest of the crew, which included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, remains missing.


Iran vessel Iran oil tanker Sanchi