Iranian Oil Tanker Burning Off Coast of China May Explode as Authorities Search for 31 Missing Crew Members

An Iranian oil tanker that’s burning out of control off the coast of China reportedly may explode and sink, even as authorities work to recover 31 missing crew members.

At least one crew member has been reported dead on the burning vessel, and there are concerns there may be an explosion, state broadcaster China Central Television reported Monday.

The Sanchi tanker run by Iran’s top oil shipping operator, National Iranian Tanker Co, had been sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal late Saturday in the East China Sea, about 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

The remains of one of the 32 mariners on board was discovered on the blazing wreck Monday afternoon, Iranian and Chinese officials confirmed to Reuters.

Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, told the ISNA news agency the body had been sent to Shanghai for identification. The fate of the remaining 31 sailors is not known.

Search and cleanup efforts have been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that have engulfed the tanker and surrounding waters, state broadcaster CCTV reported. The South Korean coast guard said Monday that thick smoke is still billowing from a burning oil tanker in the East China Sea and bad weather is also worsening visibility.

China, South Korea and the U.S. have sent ships and planes to the area to search for the Sanchi’s crew. The U.S. Navy sent a P-8A aircraft from Okinawa, Japan, to aid the search.

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SOURCE: Fox News, Travis Fedschun