Flooded since its collision with a Hong Kong freighter on January 6, the Sanchi oil tanker sank on Saturday January 13 in the China Sea, 300 km off Shanghai.
Carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, the Panamanian-flagged Iranian oil tanker also released, after the explosion of its hull, a slick of oil that would extend over some 20 kmĀ², according to Chinese authorities and media. Part of the site is now on fire, complicating cleaning operations. The oil spill caused by this sinking could be one of the worst in recent decades. Of the 32 missing sailors, the entire Sanchi crew, only three bodies were found by Chinese rescue teams. The Iranian authorities said that the remaining 29 members were now presumed dead, declaring Monday, January 15, as a day of national mourning dedicated to the memory of these sailors.
Iran joined the international rescue effort led by China, sending a rescue team of its own, including Iranian navy commandos on speed boats. But the teams couldn’t get close to the burning tanker because of the heat.