BEIJING • Rescue boats resumed their search in the choppy waters of the East China Sea yesterday for survivors from the stricken Iranian oil tanker that collided with a freight ship and burst into flames at the weekend, the Chinese government said.
The Sanchi tanker remains at risk of exploding and sinking due to spilled oil as the fire raged for a fifth day, China's Transport Ministry said in a statement yesterday.
Rescue crews were forced to retreat on Wednesday after a blast on the ship.
"Spilled oil covering the ship body and its surrounding water is still burning, which leaves Sanchi at risk of exploding and sinking," said the ministry in the statement.
The ministry has sent 12 rescue ships to search for the 31 remaining tanker crew members and to extinguish the fire.
One body, suspected to be from the tanker crew, was retrieved from the water this week.
"Contaminated air from fire and bad weather have increased difficulties of rescue work," the ministry said.
By late afternoon yesterday, the tanker was still on fire and the search area had been expanded.
The tanker, run by Iran's top oil shipping operator National Iranian Tanker, hit the CF Crystal vessel that was carrying grain from the United States last Saturday.
The cause of the collision and damage to the tanker were not clear.
CF Crystal is under investigation after arriving at Zhoushan port on Wednesday. Sailors from CF Crystal were rescued by a passing Chinese fishing boat on the night of the incident.