Lashing winds, high waves and toxic gases are hindering rescue operations on a stricken oil tanker in the East China Sea.
Dozens of rescue boats are struggling to locate missing sailors and to extinguish a fire that has burned for the past three days on the ship.
The Ministry of Transport said in a statement on Tuesday, that poor conditions, with strong winds, rain and waves as high as 3 metres frustrated efforts to tame the fire and search for the 31 remaining tanker crew members .
Concerns are growing that the tanker may explode and sink while a flotilla of 13 search and rescue vessels comb a 900-square-nautical-mile area around the ship for the crew.
The tanker hit a freight ship on Saturday night in the East China Sea, burst into flames and has been spilling oil.