Oil tanker sinks after collision with cargo ship

Published: 15 January 2018 Image credit: Reuters: China Daily

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An oil tanker burning in the East China Sea has exploded and sunk a week after it collided with another vessel, leaving no survivors on board.

The Panama-registered Sanchi tanker, which was carrying 136,000 tonnes of ultra-light crude oil, caught alight on January 7 after it collided with a Chinese cargo ship.
 
Chinese maritime authorities and Iranian navy commandos launched a search and rescue operation for the 30 Iranian and two Bangladeshi crew on board, but faced difficulty accessing the vessel due to the heat, strong winds and back-to-back explosions.
 
Three bodies were able to be recovered throughout the week, but hours before the sinking, Iran announced that all on board were presumed dead due to the initial blast on collision and the ensuing release of toxic gas.

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Authorities attempted to extinguish the blaze so bodies could be retrieved. Image: Reuters: China Daily

With 29 crew members still unaccounted for, families of the dead went to the headquarters of the company that owns the Sanchi, the National Iranian Tanker Co., to plea for help to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones.
 
“Thirty-two people died without a funeral and without coffins! They burned to ashes while their families are wailing here!” said one woman, who did not give her name, to local media.
 
“[The government] has come after 10 days to sympathise with them? What sympathy are you talking about?”

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Family and friends of the lost crew members arrived at the National Iranian Tanker Co. to plea for help. Image: AP

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani expressed his condolences and called for the relevant agencies to investigate the collision.
 
The vessel is reported to have left a 10 square kilometre area contaminated with oil in the sea, but authorities say there was no major spill as much of the oil evaporated or burned off in the fire.