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Tanker burns for third day off China coast

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January 09, 2018

There are fears of an environmental disaster in the East China Sea as a tanker continues to leak oil

An oil tanker that caught fire after colliding with a freighter off China's east coast is at risk of exploding and sinking, Chinese state media reports, as dozens of rescue boats struggle to control the blaze for a third day.

Poor conditions, with heavy winds, rain and high waves, continue to hamper efforts to tame the fire and search for the 31 remaining crew members on the tanker, the Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

The body of a crew member was found on Monday in the water near the tanker, the ministry said. It had been handed over to the civil affairs bureau.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257km off the coast of Shanghai, China's Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States to China, were rescued, the Chinese ministry said. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused Saturday night's collision.

Kwon Yong-deok, a Korea Coast Guard official, said thick black smoke was still billowing from the ship on Tuesday and bad weather was worsening visibility at the scene.

The Sanchi was carrying 150,000 tonnes, or nearly one million barrels of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities, who have dispatched three ships to clean the spill.

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