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New explosion hinders rescue efforts in Iranian tanker fire

AFP  |  Tehran 

said today that a fresh on a stricken tanker was complicating rescue efforts as reported the vessel had drifted into its exclusive economic zone.

"If it had not been for an this morning, maybe the fire would have been extinguished by now," said Hadi Haghshenas, for Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, in an interview with

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

One body has been found but 31 sailors -- mainly Iranians -- remain missing with officials in hoping they have found sanctuary on an unaffected part of the vessel.

Haghshenas said a 12-member elite rescue team had been dispatched from but was waiting in for conditions that would allow them to land on the vessel.

"The tanker is moving from the site of the accident, which was about 155 miles from port, to Japanese waters and right now is about 135 miles from Okinawa Island," he said.

said it had provided a patrol boat because the tanker was now in its exclusive economic zone, while Iran requested helicopters and planes to help put out the fire.

A Japanese said: "We offered support for efforts to deal with the accident but the Chinese side said they will handle the case by themselves."

Iranian officials have criticised China's rescue efforts, but the Chinese transport ministry said yesterday that "terrible" weather conditions and toxic gases from the burning were hindering operations.

A Chinese told AFP the government had put "a high degree of emphasis on the rescue work" and maintained "a welcoming and open attitude towards other countries coming to participate".

Haghshenas said two fire emergency consultants from the and had also been hired "who are now at the scene giving advice to the Chinese".

The 21 Chinese crew member of the Crystal, which did not burst into flames, were all rescued.

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

First Published: Fri, January 12 2018. 20:30 IST