Oil Spill in East China Sea Widens Following Iranian Oil Tanker Crash

Pauline Gross
January 18, 2018

Iranian tanker's crew members From K J M Varma Beijing, Jan 16 (PTI) China today dismissed as "untrue and irresponsible" the criticism that it made inadequate efforts to save 32 crew members who died after an Iranian oil tanker exploded and sank almost a week after colliding with a cargo ship off the coast of China.

The Sanchi's crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis are all believed to have perished in the incident, which marks the biggest tanker spill since 1991, when 260,000 tons of oil leaked off the Angolan coast.

In this January 15, 2018, aerial photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, an oil slick is seen on the surface of the East China Sea left by oil leaking from the sunken Iranian tanker ship Sanchi.

Rabiee, who led a special committee to investigate the incident, had earlier said at the end of the closing meeting of the committee in Shanghai that Chinese officials did all within their power, but they failed to control the fire due to its scale and gas condensate consignment aboard the tanker.

"There is no hope of finding survivors among the members of the crew", Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team sent to Shanghai, told Iran's state broadcaster. Condensate is highly toxic but readily evaporates or burns off in a fire.

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The salvage team recovered the Sanchi's voyage data recorder, or "black box" from the bridge of the tanker, Xinhua said on Saturday.

Even if only 20 percent of the vessel's cargo was released into the sea, it would still be an amount about equivalent to Alaska's disastrous 1989 Exxon Valdez crude oil spill, he said. Moreover, the bill of lading was issued for South Korea, and the government officially confirmed it. The 21 crewmembers of the CF Crystal had previously been reported safe. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said it would closely monitor the spill and any environmental fallout, Xinhua reported.

However, the fire is now out, and the ship has sunk, raising the possibility that the harmful cargo is going directly into the sea.

Families of the sailors wept and screamed at the headquarters of the National Iranian Tanker Co.in Tehran, the company that owns the Sanchi.

The large tanker Sanchi (IMO:9356608) sank in the worst oil ship disaster in decades and produced a large oil slick, Chinese media and Japanese authorities said on Monday, as worries grew over damage to the marine ecosystem.

Other reports by GizPress

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