BEIJING/TEHERAN • An Iranian oil tanker burst into flames from end to end and sank yesterday, eight days after a collision with a cargo ship off China, according to Chinese state media.
The stricken tanker, called the Sanchi, which had been adrift in the East China Sea after the collision, had "suddenly ignited" at around noon,CCTV said.
The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of light crude oil from Iran when it crashed into the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai on Jan 6.
The 21 Chinese crew members of the Crystal, which did not burst into flames, were all rescued.
Mr Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team dispatched to Shanghai, told Iran's state broadcaster yesterday that information from members of the Crystal crew suggested all the personnel on the Sanchi were killed in the first hour of the accident "due to the explosion and the release of gas".
"Despite our efforts, it has not been possible to extinguish the fire and recover the bodies due to repeated explosions and gas leaks," he said.
Chinese rescuers last Saturday recovered two bodies and the "black box" from the tanker, which had a crew of 32 - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
With the latest find, a total of three bodies have been recovered. The remaining sailors are still missing.
A CCTV reporter aboard a plane from the State Oceanic Administration reported seeing wreckage from the Sanchi and oil on fire, and spilt fuel covering a 10 sq km area.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE