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Burning Iranian Tanker Sinks Off China's Coast

  • VOA News

A rescue ship works to extinguish the fire on the Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea, Jan. 10, 2018.

An Iranian oil tanker that had been burning and listing off the coast of China for more than a week, exploded into a mass of flames Sunday and sank.

There was "no hope" of recovering the bodies of the crew members, Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team, said before the vessel sank.

Rescue workers had recovered the bodies of three crew members from the Sanchi, the oil tanker that collided last week in the East China Sea with the CF Crystal, a Chinese cargo ship.

Chinese state media said two bodies were recovered Saturday morning on the deck of the adrift Sanchi. A body found earlier last week is believed to be another of the 32 crew members, which included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The salvage team tried to reach the crew's living quarters Saturday, but was turned back by high temperatures.

The team, however, was able to retrieve the ship's data recorder.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea carrying 136,000 metric tons of condensate, an ultra-light type of crude oil, when it slammed last Saturday into the Hong Kong-registered CF Crystal about 257 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.

The Crystal's 21 crew members - all Chinese nationals - were rescued after the collision.The ship was carrying grain from the United States to China.

It is not clear what caused the collision.