Iranian oil tanker rocked by explosion off China, rescue efforts suspended

Rescue boats continue search for missing crew, race to prevent environmental disaster; Benjamin Hall reports from London.

Explosions rocked a stricken Iranian oil tanker in the East China Sea on Wednesday, forcing maritime authorities to suspend firefighting and rescue efforts as a blaze raged on the vessel for the fourth day after a collision with a freight ship.

The explosion on the Sanchi's bow was the latest setback in the multinational effort to extinguish the blaze and forced rescue vessels to move to a safe distance, China's Ministry of Transport said. It was not immediately known if the explosion was large enough to cause the ship to sink.

Earlier in the day, an official with South Koreas Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries told Reuters the oil tanker could burn for as long as a month.

Smoke is seen from the Sanchi tanker on Jan. 9, 2018 after it collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea.  (China's Ministry of Transport)

We believe flames would last for two weeks or a month considering previous cases of oil tank accidents, Park Sung-Dong said.

The Sanchi was carrying nearly 1 million barrels of ultra-light oil when it collided Saturday evening with a freighter 160 miles off the coast and caught fire. The cause of the collision remains unclear.

IRANIAN OIL TANKER BURNING FOR THIRD DAY, MAY EXPLODE AS CREW STILL MISSING

Intense flames, bad weather and poor visibility have hampered rescue efforts in the following days. Rescues have also faced th....

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