Rescue crews wrestle to contain China oil tanker fire; body of mariner found

This handout from the Transport Ministry of China taken on Sunday and released on Monday shows the Chinese firefighting vessel "DONGHAIJIU 117" spraying water on the burning oil tanker Sanchi at sea off the coast of eastern China. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2018
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Rescue crews wrestle to contain China oil tanker fire; body of mariner found

BEIJING/SEOUL: Rescue crews wrestled to bring a blaze on an Iranian oil tanker off China’s east coast under control on Monday as fire raged for a second day following a collision with a grain ship, while the body of one of the 32 missing crew members was found on aboard.
Concerns were growing that the tanker, which hit a freight ship on Saturday night in the East China Sea and burst into flames, may explode and sink, the official China Central Television (CCTV) said on Monday, citing experts on the rescue team.
Poor weather continued to hamper the rescue work, Lu Kang, a spokesman at China’s foreign ministry, told a regular news briefing.
The size of the oil spill from the ship and the extent of the environmental harm were not known, but the disaster has the potential to be the worst since 1991 when 260,000 tons of oil leaked off the Angolan coast.
The remains of one of the 32 mariners on board was found on Monday afternoon, Iranian and Chinese officials confirmed.
Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying that the body had been sent to Shanghai for identification. The fate of the remaining 31 sailors is not known.
The Sanchi tanker (IMO:9356608) run by Iran's top oil shipping operator, National Iranian Tanker Co, collided with the CF Crystal (IMO:9497050) on Saturday evening about 160 nautical miles off China's coast near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta.
Chinese state media CCTV showed footage on Monday of a flotilla of boats dousing the flames with water as plumes of thick dark smoke continued to billow from the tanker.
One portion appeared to show the fire had been extinguished, although this could not be independently confirmed. China’s Ministry of Transport and Maritime Safety would not comment when asked if the fire was out.
“The Chinese government takes maritime accidents like this very seriously, and has already dispatched many search and rescue teams to the scene to carry out search and rescue,” said the foreign ministry’s Lu said.
China sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site, South Korea dispatched a ship and a helicopter, while a US Navy military aircraft searched an area of about 3,600 square nautical miles (12,350 sq km) for crew members.
The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra-light and highly volatile crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices.
Ship tracking data shows the collision occurred in waters not frequently used by large vessels like tankers, dry-bulk carriers or container ships. Most ships travel either closer to the Chinese coast in the west or more nearby to Japan in the east.
The freight ship, which was carrying US grain, suffered limited damage and the 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued.
China's Transport Ministry said the CF Crystal were being taken to the port of Luhuashan, just south of Shanghai, where authorities will start an investigation into the cause of the incident.
Lu said it was too soon to discuss how victims of the disaster may be compensated, and that compensation and other questions would be addressed after an investigation into the accident is complete.
Bad weather made it hard for the rescue crews to get access to the tanker, but toxic gas from the burning oil posed a major risk.
When condensate meets water, it evaporates quickly and can cause a large-scale explosion as it reacts with air and turns into a flammable gas, the transportation ministry said on Monday.


German city of Hamburg ato restrict older diesel vehicles

A car passes a traffic sign showing a ban on diesel cars at the Max-Brauer Allee in downtown Hamburg, Germany, on May 23, 2018. (REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer)
Updated 25 min 26 sec ago
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German city of Hamburg ato restrict older diesel vehicles

  • Diesel bans will affect two streets, non-Euro-6 models
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has long sought to avoid bans, as has the VDA auto industry lobby representing carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

BERLIN: Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg, will ban the most polluting diesel vehicles from two major streets from next week, a move that could spur others to follow suit and raise pressure on carmakers to consider costly vehicle refits.
Hamburg, home to around 1.8 million people, said on Wednesday the ban would start on May 31 and affect diesel models that do not meet the latest Euro-6 emissions standards.
This follows a ruling in February by Germany’s top administrative court that the cities of Stuttgart and Duesseldorf should consider bans for older diesels.
The detailed publication of that ruling last Friday showed local authorities were entitled to implement targeted bans with immediate effect to bring air pollution levels into line with European Union rules, although curbs affecting wider city areas should only be phased in over time.
Bans on diesel vehicles from city centers are also planned in Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens by 2025, while the mayor of Copenhagen wants to bar new diesel cars from entering the city center as soon as next year.
Since the German ruling was disclosed, the environment minister of Germany’s northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, has said banning older diesel vehicles could also be an option for the regional capital Kiel, a city of about 250,000 people.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has long sought to avoid bans, as has the VDA auto industry lobby representing carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.
Environment Minister Svenja Schulze — a member of the Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel’s coalition government — urged carmakers to roll out retrofits for diesel cars to lower emissions. “Driving bans like those in Hamburg show how serious the situation is,” she told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. “It’s up to the car industry now.”
Levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted by diesel engines and known to cause respiratory disease should fall significantly as more efficient Euro-6 models are sold and emissions-cleaning software updates take effect, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper.
The bans in Hamburg affect a section of about 1.6 km (one mile) on Stresemannstrasse, where the restrictions will apply only to commercial vehicles weighing 3.5 tons or more, and a section of about 580 meters on Max-Brauer-Allee, covering all diesel vehicles.
Both thoroughfares are in Altona, a busy district in the west of the city.
Drivers aiming for a destination on the two affected streets, including residents, trash collectors, suppliers and taxis, will be exempt from the restrictions as they are designed to filter out through traffic, a spokesman for Hamburg’s environment and energy department said.
Of the 330,000 diesel cars on Hamburg’s roads, only about 116,000 have the Euro-6 technology that was introduced in 2014, according to local government data.
Police will make random checks and fine drivers of older diesel cars 25 euros ($30) and truck owners up to 75 euros for violating the new rules, he said.