Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

2 Bodies, Black Box Recovered from Burning Iranian Tanker

2 Bodies, Black Box Recovered from Burning Iranian Tanker

Saturday, 13 January, 2018 - 12:15
Smoke rises from the Panama-registered tanker Sanchi carrying Iranian oil. China's ministry of transport / handout / via Reuters

Chinese rescuers Saturday recovered the bodies of two crew members and the "black box" from a stricken Iranian oil tanker which has been ablaze for the past week in the East China Sea, the transport ministry said.

The Sanchi, carrying 136,000 tons of light crude oil from Iran, has been in flames since colliding with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai last Saturday.

It had a crew of 32 -- 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis. With the latest find a total of three bodies have now been recovered. The remaining sailors are still missing.

"At 0837 (0037 GMT), four rescuers equipped with masks and bottles of oxygen were placed at the deck at the back of the Sanchi with the help of a crane," the Chinese transport ministry said in a statement.

"They discovered the bodies of two sailors in a lifeboat,” Agence France Presse cited the ministry.

Footage shows rescuers wearing white helmets and orange jumpsuits walking on the tanker, whose grey metallic structure appears to have been devastated by fire.

"After recovering the black box, the rescuers tried to reach the communal areas (....) But the temperature reached 89 degrees Celsius (192 degrees Fahrenheit) and they could not enter," the ministry said.

A total of 13 vessels -- 10 Chinese, two Japanese and one South Korean -- are taking part in the rescue operation, oil recovery and firefighting.

Operated by Iran's National Iranian Tanker Company, the Panamanian-flagged ship was transporting light crude condensate to South Korea.

The 21 Chinese crew members of the Crystal, which did not burst into flames, were all rescued.

The cause of the collision remains unclear.

Editor Picks