Stricken Iranian oil tanker drifts into Japan's economic zone: coast guard

  12 January 2018    Read: 586
Stricken Iranian oil tanker drifts into Japan's economic zone: coast guard
A stricken Iranian oil tanker drifted into Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for Japan’s Coast Guard told Reuters on Friday, as strong winds pushed the burning ship away from the Chinese coast.
The ship, which has been ablaze for almost a week since it collided with another vessel on Saturday night in the East China Sea, was about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Sokkozaki on the island of Amami Oshima as of Thursday afternoon, a spokesman from the Coast Guard’s 10th region based in Kagoshima said.

Amami Oshima is one of the northern islands in the Ryukyu islands chain that includes Okinawa.

The tanker Sanchi (IMO:9356608), owned by Iran’s top oil shipping operator National Iranian Tanker Co, was carrying almost 1 million barrels of condensate, an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil, to South Korea.

It collided with the freighter CF Crystal (IMO:9497050) that was carrying grain from the United States about 160 nautical miles (184 km) off China’s coast near Shanghai.

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

(For a graphic, click bit.ly/2moLgfw)

He said it was not clear if the tanker would drift into Japan’s territorial waters, which are about 280 km (174 miles) away.

The Coast Guard has sent patrol boats and aircraft to get the latest information about the tanker and is monitoring the situation, he said.

The Sanchi had a crew of 32 sailors at the time of the collision. The body of a mariner suspected to be from the ship was recovered on Monday and sent to Shanghai for identification. The rest of the crew, which included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, remains missing.

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