Iranian oil tanker sinks after explosion shoots flames up to 1km high

Image for representational purpose only

Image for representational purpose only

All 32 crew members on board an Iranian oil tanker that caught fire on January 6 after colliding with a freighter off China's east coast are dead.

China Central Television said the Sanchi, which had drifted into Japan's exclusive economic zone, "suddenly ignited" around noon, with flames spreading from end to end, before sinking.

Black smoke could still be seen billowing from the site of the collision as oil left behind by the tanker continued to burn. The ship sank before 5pm, CCTV said.

Sanchi ship's hoist, which is used to enter to rescue boats and jumping into the sea, has not been coming down, the issue of which shows that Iranian sailors on aboard had no opportunity to plunge into the water, the report added.

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Three of the bodies of the more than 30 crew aboard have been recovered.

The crew was all Iranian expect for two Bangladeshis. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tonnes of ultra-light crude but Chinese officials say there is no major slick.

It collided with the CF Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, about 160 nautical miles (114 miles) off China's coast near Shanghai.

All 21 Chinese crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, have been rescued. One body was recovered from the sea earlier this week, leaving 29 crew members still unaccounted for.

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