Divers search for missing Japanese captain after tanker blast

Divers search for missing Japanese captain after tanker blast
Above: Tanker Shoko-maru

TOKYO - Divers on Friday were searching for the captain of an oil tanker that exploded and sank off the Japanese coast.

The coastguard deployed six patrol ships, as well as several airplanes, to the area where the nearly 1,000-tonne tanker, Shoko-maru, went down around 10 hours after it erupted in a fireball on Thursday.

Seven of the eight Japanese crew were rescued, including one who remained unconscious with severe burns covering his entire body, but the vessel's 64-year-old captain was still missing After the accident, the transport ministry urged tanker operators nationwide to step up safety measure, a spokesman said.

The fire was likely sparked as a crew member used a grinder to remove rust on the ship, Transport Minister Akihiro Ota told a press conference.

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