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  Three feared lost in tanker blast in southern Japan

    Friday 17 December 2004

Three feared lost in tanker blast

The Japanese chemical tanker Sunny Jewel suffered an explosion late on Wednesday while off Ehime Prefecture in southern Japan.

It appears the three-year-old, 6,880dwt vessel was undergoing tank cleaning at the time of the accident.
According to its Japanese operator, Mitsui OSK affiliate Asahi Tanker, the Panamanian-registered ship was bound for Oita in ballast having discharged a cargo of gasoline at Kikuma when the accident occurred.

Japan Coast Guard said 15 of the 18 Korean and Filipino crew had been rescued but that three seafarers who were involved in the tank cleaning were still missing.
Television footage showed major damage to the mid-ship area of the vessel, which subsequently sank. Although the vessel had no cargo on board when it went down, there are concerns about pollution resulting from leakage of bunker fuel.