A burning Iranian tanker listing for days off the coast of China after a collision with another vessel sank Sunday, with an Iranian official saying there was "no hope" of survival for the 29 missing sailors onboard. Iranian state television reported that the Sanchi had sunk Sunday in the East China Sea, reports the AP. An anchorwoman on state television also offered condolences on behalf of the nation for the loss. State TV quoted Mahmoud Rastad, the chief of Iran's maritime agency, as saying: "There is no hope of finding survivors among the (missing) 29 members of the crew." President Hassan Rouhani expressed condolences and called on relevant government agencies to investigate the tragedy and take any necessary legal measures. Chinese state-run broadcaster CGTN reported that the ship's voice data recorder, which functions like "black boxes" on aircraft, had been recovered.
The cause of the collision, 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai, remains unclear. Three bodies have been recovered from the sea, leaving 29 crew members unaccounted for. The Chinese freighter CF Crystal, which collided with the Panamanian-registered tanker, had 21 crew members, all of whom were safe. Television footage Saturday showed parts of the Sanchi still aflame, its hull and superstructure completely stripped of paint. Thirteen ships, including one from South Korea and two from Japan, were engaged in rescue and cleanup effort Saturday, spraying foam in an effort to extinguish the fire. The Sanchi was carrying nearly 1 million barrels of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil that readily evaporates or burns off in a fire, reducing the chance of a major oil spill.