An oil tanker that had previously collided with a freight ship off the east coast of China has a genuine risk of exploding according to Chinese authorities, as it is still on fire.
Early on the 8th January, the Shanghai Maritime Bureau said that both the vessel and the leaked cargo were burning at an extraordinary rate, and the fumes released from this were hampering any rescue efforts. Most worrying though, was the fact that many experts have stated a belief that there is a strong chance that the vessel could explode and sink.
On Saturday 6th January, 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi citizens went missing from the SANCHI tanker – a Panama registered one, at that – and Lu Kang, who is a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, revealed bad news by declaring that one body had been found by search and rescue teams, though for now, their identity hasn’t been confirmed.
“The environment and the conditions on the ground are not very favourable for search and rescue work and some crew members are still missing,” Kang said. “We have also dispatched some cleaning vessels to the site to prevent any secondary disaster.”
A 10-nautical-mile avoidance area around the SANCHI has been drawn up by the Shanghai Maritime Bureau. The collision itself took place around 160 nautical miles (184 statute miles) to the east of the mouth of the Yangtze River, at around 20:00 on the 6th January, as confirmed by the Ministry of Transport in a statement.
The SANCHI has a length of 900 feet (274 metres) and has displaced over 85,000 tonnes, meaning the vessel is almost the same size as the US Navy’s Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, so says ship tracking site marinetraffic.com.
In addition, the vessel is fairly new, as it only launched back in 2008.