An Iranian oil tanker has sunk after burning for more than a week following a collision with a cargo ship in the East China Sea, and there are no hopes of finding any survivors, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing Chinese and Iranian state media.
The 899-foot Sanchi, carrying one million barrels of condensate, a highly flammable light crude, collided with the Hong Kong-registered CF Crystal off the coast of Shanghai on Jan. 6, then drifted toward Japanese waters.
The tanker had a crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, the newspaper said.
“Unfortunately, there is no hope of finding any survivors among the missing crew,” the Iranian state television quoted Mahmoud Rastad, head of Iran’s maritime agency, as saying on Sunday.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua said four rescuers went aboard the Sanchi on Saturday and recovered two bodies, but investigators said there were no official reports of anyone boarding the ship.
Another body was recovered from the water earlier in the week.
Also recovered was the tanker’s voyage data recorder, which could be used in reconstructing a voyage.
The 738-foot CF Crystal sustained light damage, but its 21 crew members are safe, the Journal said.
The Sanchi, which had been adrift and on fire following the collision with CF Crystal, had “suddenly ignited” around noon (0400 GMT) Sunday, Reuters reported, citing China Central Television (CCTV).
The state broadcaster showed video of a tower of billowing black smoke that it said reached as high as 1,000 meters, and flames on the surface of the water.
The ship sank before 5 p.m. (0900 GMT), CCTV said.
The Sanchi was owned by Iranian state-controlled shipping firm National Iranian Tanker Co. (NITC) and leased by South Korea’s Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co. Ltd., the Journal said.
It is still not unclear what had caused the collision.
The WSJ quoted Chinese authorities as saying earlier that no large-scale oil spills had been found on the sea’s surface and that condensate would evaporate on hitting the water’s surface.
However, other experts said that while some evaporation would occur, condensate mixes readily with water, which would complicate cleanup efforts, the newspaper said.
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