Oil tanker explodes off western Japan

Japanese oil-tanker Shoko-Maru explodes, sinks May 2014An oil tanker exploded and sank off the coast of Himeji, western Japan, on 29 May 2014. The mid-morning explosion and fire aboard the 998 tonne fuel tanker Shoko-Maru sent towering columns of smoke into the sky. 

The ship is owned by Syoho Shipping Co. based in Hiroshima prefecture, and carried an all-Japanese crew of eight. Four crew members were severely injured by the fire, three were unharmed, and the captain, Masaichi Ando, went down with the ship. His body was found in the hold of the sunken vessel and recovered by divers on 31 May.

The 81m (266ft)-long tanker had unloaded its cargo of crude oil and was stationary in Himeji port, close to the coast of Hyogo prefecture, around 450km west of Tokyo, at the time of the accident. The ship sunk about 10 hours after the explosion.

Akihiro Komura, an official from Syoho Shipping, told AFP: "The ship unloaded crude oil at a port in Hyogo prefecture, and the tanker was virtually empty when the accident occurred."

Komura said the blast may have been triggered by a crew member who was using a grinder to remove rust and paint.

(AP Photo/Japan's 5th Regional Coast Guard) MANDATORY CREDIT

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