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China races to prevent environmental disaster from stricken

AFP  |  Beijing 

raced to contain leaking from an Iranian stricken off its eastern coast today amid warnings the burning ship could spark an environmental disaster.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of light when it collided with a cargo ship on Saturday and erupted into flames 160 nautical miles east of

If all the cargo from the Panamanian-flagged 274-metre spills, it would be the biggest slick from a ship in decades and could kill marine life across a vast area, analysts have said.

The ministry said the vessel was still burning on Tuesday. It released a photo of the Sanchi enveloped in smoke and flames.

"With the ship on fire, it is expected that much of this will burn off rather than enter the water," East said in a statement to AFP.

"However, if the ship sinks before the off, the cleanup procedure would be extremely difficult. What is important now is to understand how much of that oil has burned off, and how much is leaking into the sea."

The Chinese foreign ministry said late Monday that cleaning ships had been sent to prevent "secondary disasters".

Authorities widened the search on Tuesday for 31 missing crew members, with 13 "carrying out an within 900 square nautical miles" of the tanker, China's ministry of said.

The efforts were hampered by poor conditions at sea, it added, with rescuers battered with rain, wind and waves.

The "is in danger of explosion and sinking, and the .. is very harmful to rescue workers on the scene," authorities warned today.

A vessel carrying protective suits, masks and gas testing equipment was sent to the scene Monday evening.

The Sanchi was on its way to when it collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter that was transporting grain.

The Crystal's 21 Chinese crew members were rescued, but most of the 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis from the Sanchi are still missing.

A "preliminary assessment" by China's ministry determined that a body found on Monday with a protective garment on it belonged to one of the Sanchi's crew members.

A US Navy aircraft took part in the search on Sunday, scouring a wide area before returning to in Okinawa,

A ship was also dispatched.

The Sanchi belongs to the (NITC), Iran's petroleum ministry said, and was transporting the oil to South Korea's The ship and its cargo were insured, a statement said.

This is the second accident in less than two years involving a tanker owned by the NITC. In August 2016, an Iranian supertanker and a container ship collided in the Strait, causing damage to both vessels but no injuries or pollution.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 09 2018. 15:55 IST