Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Burning Iranian Tanker Drifts Into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone - Coast Guard

Burning Iranian Tanker Drifts Into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone - Coast Guard

Ship tracking data shows the collision occurred in waters not frequently used by large vessels like tankers, dry-bulk carriers or container ships. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals.

Two vessels collided off China's east coast Saturday evening and 32 sailors, 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, are still missing.

Fourteen ships are carrying out emergency response work, including one from Japan and two from South Korea, the transport ministry said in a statement released late on Friday.

Since the crash, the tanker has been billowing thick plumes of black smoke.

Rescuers have found a body believed to be of a sailor from the Iranian oil tanker set ablaze after a collision in the East China Sea, China's Ministry of Transportation said Tuesday, as the search continued for another 31 missing from the same ship.

Ships and aircraft from South Korea and the US are aiding in rescue efforts, which have been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that have engulfed the tanker and surrounding waters.

The tanker was carrying 136,000 metric tons (nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil, when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal.

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"The plus is that it will sit at the surface as it spills initially, and a fair proportion will evaporate off", he said. Condensate is highly toxic and even more combustible than regular crude oil.

"If the crew had a chance to run to the bottom of the ship, they might be still alive", he said.

Oil is usually not degradable, meaning the damage to the ocean would be long-term, he said. "If the ship sinks where it is with its cargo, then it will leak for some months to come and cause a chronic pollution problem, effectively writing off the local environment and fishing grounds for many thousands of square kilometers".

"The fire extinguishing operation did not achieve the desired effect", it said.

Rashid Kang, a campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said in a statement that the organization is "worried about the potential environmental impact" of the collision. The area's environment still hasn't fully recovered.

This story was originally published at 11:50 a.m.

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