Wednesday, 17 January, 2018

Tanker explosion halts relief efforts

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Ellis Copeland | 13 January, 2018, 07:39

However, fears still remain that the oil tanker could explode at any moment due to the high volatility of the condensate oil, likely killing all the crew members on board.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra-light crude oil that becomes highly volatile when exposed to air and water, to South Korea.

Hard weather and sea conditions have hampered search efforts in recent days with only one body recovered - that of an Iranian national that Sanchi'sowners National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) believe to be one of the vessel's crew.

"Due to the fact that on 10 January at 13.35 on the tanker SANCHI, an explosion occurred at the scene temporarily suspended work to extinguish the fire, search and rescue vessels moved away to a safe distance".

Previous statements from China's transport ministry have said the toxicity of the smoke and fierce heat generated by the burning ultra-light crude oil condensate carried by Sanchi (see photo above and video below) has hampered rescue workers, who have been forced to wear biohazard "protective suits, protective masks and [use] gas testing equipment".

China sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site, South Korea dispatched a ship and a helicopter, while a US Navy military aircraft searched an area of about 12,350 square kilometres for crew members.

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The changes took place as the IG has created a protection and indemnity reinsurance framework, without having contributions from United States insurers, in an effort to bring back its coverage to a near pre-sanction level for the first time since impositions of worldwide sanctions against Iran in mid-2012, according to sources familiar with the matter. There was no further word about 31 other sailors missing since in the East China Sea late Saturday. The CF Crystal suffered limited damage and the 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued.

China's Ministry of Transport and Maritime Safety would not comment when asked if the fire was out.

The 21 Chinese crew members on the CF Crystal, carrying grain from the U.S., were rescued.

Poor weather continued to hamper the rescue work, Lu Kang, a spokesman at China's foreign ministry, told a regular news briefing.

During an environmental in December, President Xi Jinping described climate change as an enemy of "picturesque scenery" and called for efforts to "ensure coexistence between man and nature, cherish the environment as we cherish our own lives, respect and protect nature, and safeguard the irreplaceable planet Earth".

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