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Japanese oil tanker explodes, one missing, four seriously injured

Japanese oil tanker explodes, one missing, four seriously injured
An oil tanker has exploded off the coast of Japan leaving four of the eight crew members seriously injured and one missing, the ship's captain.

The 1995-built 2,242 dwt Shoko Maru was off the coast of Hyogo prefecture when the ship exploded at around 0900 hrs local time (0000 GMT) on 29 May.

Latest reports indicate that the ship is still in flames and that it has been gutted by the explosion and subsequent fire, leaving it listing heavily.

The tanker had unloaded its cargo at Hyogo before the incident. The ship was largely empty and being cleaned when the explosion occurred, with some crew members on deck.

An employee of Syoho Shipping Company, which owns the ship, told the AFP news agency: "I heard that a crew member was using a grinder to remove paint and that seems to have triggered the blast, which we believe could have occurred when the remnants of the oil caught fire."

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