32 crew presumed dead as burning Iranian oil tanker sinks

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The burning Iranian tanker Sanchi on fire eight days following a collision with a bulker has sank according to Chinese state media.

Ali Larijani said in his message that the crew members of the oil tanker that collided with a freighter and caught fire were martyrs to duty.

Mohammad Rastad, a spokesman for the Special Task Force established over the incident, said on Saturday that there was no hope to find the crew members alive.

Black smoke could still be seen billowing from the site of the collision as oil left behind by the tanker continued to burn.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran expressed his condolences and called on government agencies to investigate the tragedy and to take any necessary legal measures, according to state TV. The 32 crew members included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

A report today quoted Mahmoud Rastad, the chief of Iran's maritime agency, as saying: 'There is no hope of finding survivors'.

China's Ministry of Transport said the 21 Chinese sailors from the CF-Crystal had been rescued. Three bodies were later found during a rescue operation.

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

They tried to get to the living quarters but were driven back by temperatures on the burning ship of around 89C, Xinhua said.

A reporter with China's state television CCTV aboard a plane from the State Oceanic Administration reported seeing wreckage from the Sanchi, oil on fire, and spilled fuel covering a 10-square-kilometre (3.9-square-mile) area.

Dramatic photos of the scene showed tall flames raging on board the ship, which was carrying nearly a million barrels of crude oil.

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