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Huge explosion on tanker off Japan

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Huge explosion on tanker off Japan

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Desperate efforts have been underway to put out a fire after a massive explosion on a tanker off the southwest coast of Japan.

The captain of the 998-tonne vessel is missing. His seven crew members have all been rescued. Four are said to have serious burns.

The company that owns the ship says it had already unloaded its cargo of fuel oil when the blast happened, some five kilometres off Himeji port in Hyogo prefecture.

Reports suggest the explosion could be linked to remnants of the oil catching fire as a crew member used a grinder to remove rust near the fuel tank.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe interrupted a debate in parliament to announce what had happened.