Firefighting resumes on burning tanker

Iranian oil tanker in East China Sea could burn for a month, South Korean official says

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

Rescue crews were forced to retreat on Wednesday after a blast on the ship.

The Panama-registered tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra-light crude that is highly flammable and to South Korea, equivalent to about 1 million barrels and worth about $60 million.

Rescue boats resumed their search in choppy waters of the East China Sea on Thursday for any survivors from the stricken Iranian oil tanker that collided with a freight ship and burst into flames at the weekend, the Chinese government said.

He said that Chinese authorities turned down an offer from the Japanese Coast Guard to help, saying it would ask for help when needed.

The ministry reported that 14 vessels were searching for the missing sailors in the tanker's vicinity before the explosion.

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The ship remains at risk of exploding and sinking due to spilled oil as the fire raged for a fifth day, the Ministry of Transportation said in a statement on Thursday.

The entire crew of the Panamanian-registered Sanchi - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis - went missing after its collision with the Chinese freighter CF Crystal.

If that happens, it would potentially expel the tanker's bunker fuel, or the heavy fuel oil that powers a ship's engines. "The fire extinguishing operation did not achieve the desired effect", it said.

The ship, which has been burning for nearly a week since it collided with another vessel on Saturday night, was about 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Amami Oshima island as of Thursday afternoon, a coast guard spokesman said. Since then, the tanker has been ablaze and drifting in the waters between Shanghai and southern Japan.

Chinese media has shared footage of oil tanker Sanchi puffing black clouds of smoke as rescue boats try to douse the flames.

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