An explosion on oil tanker Shoko Maru off the coast of Japan set the vessel ablaze, severely injuring four crew while the captain remains missing, several sources reported.
The blast occurred this morning while the 998-ton tanker was anchored roughly 3 miles off western Japan's port of Himeji, the Japanese coast guard said.
Seven of the vessel’s eight crewmembers have been recovered and taken to the nearby hospitals, but the ship’s captain remains missing.
Ships and aircraft were commissioned to fight the fire, which created a large hole in the vessel’s port side, causing it to tilt.
Shoko Maru unloaded its fuel oil last Friday, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told Reuters, minimizing fears of major environmental impacts.
The vessel is owned by Shoho Shopping Co. Ltd, based in Hiroshima, Japan.
According to a report by NHK, crewmembers were grinding off rust near its fuel tank before the vessel exploded.
The coast guard said the cause of the explosion is presently unknown as the investigation is ongoing.
Sources: Japanese Coast Guard, Reuters, CNN, NBC, NHK, Staff