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Oil tanker explodes off southwest coast of Japan

29 May 2014

On May 29 the Japanese-owned oil tanker Shoku Maru exploded off the port of Himeji, and one of its eight crew is reported missing. The remaining seven were rescued, with four of these suffering severe burns, NHK reported. A search is underway for the missing man, the tanker's captain, it said.

Image: NHK
Image: NHK

The 998-tonne vessel was ravaged by fire after the explosion, and the latest reports say that this has now been brought under control by firefighters and the ship is listing with severe damage to its mid section.

The cause of the explosion is unclear, coast guard spokesman Koji Takarada. NHK said crew members had been working on the deck of the tanker at the time of the blast.

The tanker had unloaded its cargo of crude oil and was stationary close to the coast of Hyogo prefecture, about 280 miles (450km) west of Tokyo, when the explosion happened.

Akihiro Komura, an official from Syoho Shipping, a Hiroshima-based shipping firm that owns the vessel, told AFP the ship had unloaded crude oil at a port in Hyogo prefecture and and was stationary off the coast when the incident occurred. He said a crew member using a grinder to remove paint could have triggered the blast.

There was no immediate danger to other ships, as the tanker was located outside of the port facility, the coast guard said, adding that an exclusion zone was being set up around the damaged vessel.

The coast guard said it was investigating the cause of the blast.


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