Iranian tanker disaster probe ends in split verdict

The Panama-registered Sanchi sank on Jan 14, 2018, after burning for several days. PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBAI (REUTERS) - A committee investigating a collision between an Iranian tanker and a Chinese freighter has come to diverging conclusions over the causes of the worst oil ship disaster in decades, Iranian state television reported on Saturday (May 5).

The Panama-registered Sanchi, run by Iran's top oil shipping operator NITC, collided with the CF Crystal, registered in Hong Kong, off the coast of China, near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta, on Jan 6.

The Sanchi sank on Jan 14 after burning for several days. The entire crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, are presumed dead.

"(Representatives of) China and Hong Kong believe that both vessels were to blame," Iran's state TV quoted Mr Nader Pasandeh, the country's representative on the investigating committee, as saying.

"But Iran, Panama and Bangladesh see the veering to the right by the Crystal as the cause of the disaster," he added.

The Sanchi was carrying the equivalent of nearly one million barrels of ultra-light crude, plus its own fuel, to South Korea.

According to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, the collision led to the worst tanker spill in 35 years.

Mr Pasandeh did not say what the next step would be or how the conflict would be resolved.

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