An explosion on Syoho Shipping’s Shoko Maru oil tanker off the south-west coast of Japan has left four of the eight crew members severely injured and one missing.
Japan coast guard spokesman was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying that the incident occurred at 9:20am near the Himeji Port.
The 998t oil tanker exploded close to the coast of the Hyogo prefecture after it had unloaded its cargo at a port nearby.
A Himeji fire department spokesman said that the cause of the explosion is not yet known and an investigation is underway.
Syoho Shipping official Akihiro Komura has reportedly told AFP that seven crew members have been rescued, but that the ship’s captain is still missing.
"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," Komura said.
The incident comes just a month after the Sewol ferry capsized off the south-west coast of South Korea on 16 April, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.