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China says no major oil spill after Iran tanker collision

AFP  |  Beijing 

Chinese authorities battling to prevent an environmental disaster after a collision between an Iranian and a cargo said today no major spill has been detected, but 31 sailors remained missing.

Cleanup and rescue ships have faced toxic fumes, rain and windy conditions as they scrambled to find survivors and avoid a massive slick since Saturday's incident.

The Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil, has been in flames since colliding with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, 160 nautical miles east of

Experts had warned that a spill of the Panamanian-flagged 274-metre (899-foot) tanker's cargo could spell environmental catastrophe as authorities said the could explode or sink.

But China's ministry said in a statement that as of 6:00 pm yesterday, "no large-scale spills were found on the sea surface" where the search is being conducted around the stricken vessel, which continued to burn.

The oil from the is that is expected to quickly evaporate upon hitting the water, with "very little residue on the water's surface", the ministry said.

A test also found that less than one percent of would remain on the sea surface five hours after a leak.

Thirteen are continuing to look for missing crew members within 900 square nautical miles of the tanker, the ministry said.

But weather conditions are unfavourable, with "overcast and rainy weather", strong winds and waves.

Of the 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on the Sanchi's crew, only one body has so far been found.

The oil was on its way to when it collided with the CF Crystal, which was transporting grain to mainland The Crystal's 21 Chinese crew members were all rescued.

The Sanchi belongs to the (NITC), Iran's petroleum ministry said, and was transporting the oil to South Korea's The 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: Wed, January 10 2018. 09:45 IST