China’s transport ministry on Friday confirmed that it has resumed firefighting operations and the search for 31 missing seafarers, as the fire on board the stricken Sanchi tanker continues.
A statement concerning the incident from China’s Ministry of Transport said that it “continued to organise full search and rescue work on site” and “continued the non-stop search for crew” who have been listed as missing since Sanchi collided with bulk carrier CF Crystal on January 6.
Firefighting operations were suspended on Wednesday, after an explosion rocked the vessel. The transport ministry said that two vessels were back on hand to attempt to douse the blaze with foam, while a third was resupplying the vessels by transporting foam from port in Shanghai.
When the collision occurred the ships were in transit some 260 km off the coast of Shanghai, but the Chinese transport ministry said Sanchi had drifted “about 65 nautical miles southeast of the collision location” by Wednesday evening. Multiple reports have since put the tanker in Japanese waters and the Japanese Coast Guard is said to be monitoring the situation.
Difficult weather and sea conditions have hampered search efforts in recent days with only one body recovered – that of an Iranian national that Sanchi’s owners National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) believe to be one of the vessel’s crew. The remaining crew from Sanchi, 29 Iranians and 2 Bangladeshis – are listed as missing, and the transport ministry confirmed Monday (8 January) that 21 Chinese crew from CF Crystal had all been rescued.
China’s transport ministry have earlier said that the toxicity of the smoke and fierce heat generated by the burning ultra-light crude oil condensate carried by Sanchi has hampered rescue workers, who have been forced to wear biohazard “protective suits, protective masks and use gas testing equipment”.
Sea News, January 12