Iranian oil tanker ablaze off China coast sinks, no survivors

Chinese rescuers find two bodies on burning oil tanker

The Panama-registered Iranian oil tanker, Sanchi, with 32 crew members on board, caught on fire after colliding with a Hong Kong cargo ship on January 6, 160 nautical miles (296 km) from China's east coast.

The tanker, owned by National Iranian Tanker Co, was carrying nearly 1 million barrels of condensate, an ultra-light crude oil, to South Korea.

Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team, has told Iran's state broadcaster he believes all the crew on board were killed in the first hour of the accident "due to the explosion and the release of gas".

In a Sunday telephone conversation with the Iranian Labor Minister Ali Rabei who is in China, Jahangiri called for closer coordination with China, South Korea and Japan to speed up the rescue operation at the site of the blazing Iranian oil tanker.

The Administration said it would expand the scope of its monitoring and "quickly ascertain the spread and drift of overflowing oil" from the wrecked ship. Three bodies have been recovered from the sea, leaving 29 crew members still unaccounted for.

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Another crew member had been rescued earlier last week.

The cause of the collision is not clear.

The Sanchi's crew consisted of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

However, all 21 crew members on board the Chinese freighter CF Crystal were safe despite the collision.

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