After burning for a week, Iranian oil tanker Sanchi exploded and sank on Sunday off the coast of China. The ship carried 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
Three bodies have been recovered from the sea, leaving 29 crew members still unaccounted for.
“There is no hope of finding survivors,” said Mahmoud Rastad, the chief of Iran’s maritime agency, of the missing crew members.
Environmental disaster in the East China Sea: what you need to know about condensate, the cargo carried by oil tanker Sanchi
Families of the sailors wept and screamed at the headquarters of the National Iranian Tanker Company, which owned the Sanchi, in the Iranian capital Tehran. Some needed to be taken by ambulance to nearby hospitals as they were so overwhelmed by the news.
Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed their condolences to the victims’ families. The government also announced Monday as a nationwide day of mourning over the disaster.
The cause of the January 6 collision between the Sanchi and the Chinese cargo ship CF Crystal in the East China Sea, which set the tanker on fire, remains unclear. The CF Crystal had 21 crew members; all were reported safe.
The Chinese say the ship left a 10-square-kilometre area contaminated with oil. Luckily, the oil the ship was carrying readily evaporates or burns off in a fire, reducing the chance of a major oil spill.