'No hope of survivors' on sinking Iranian oil tanker Sanchi

Ministry of Transport the burning Iranian oil tanker Sanchi is seen partially sunk in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China. The fire from the sunken Iranian tanker ship

The stricken tanker, called the Sanchi, which had been adrift and on fire for more than a week following the accident with another vessel in the East China Sea, had "suddenly ignited" around noon local time on Sunday, China Central Television said. An anchorwoman on state television also offered condolences on behalf of the nation for the loss.

Meanwhile, commander of the Chinese rescue teams has played down hopes about survival of the crew.

On Saturday rescuers recovered the bodies of two crew members, found on the lifeboat deck of the Sanchi oil tanker.

Based on available evidence, all those on board died soon after the tanker collided with another vessel, Iran's state-run Press TV news channel reported, citing Mohammad Rastad, a spokesman for a Special Task Force for the incident.

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Footage of the rescue showed parts of the Sanchi still aflame, its hull and superstructure completely stripped of paint. The cause of the collision remains unclear and 29 crew members are still unaccounted for.

The Sanchi, carrying 1,36,000 tonnes of light crude oil from Iran, had been in flames since colliding with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, on 6 January.

Rescue efforts have been hampered due to weather conditions and "repeated explosions and gas leaks".

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Iranian labor minister on Sunday morning, the Chinese commander said all people on board the doomed tanker are feared dead, given the magnitude of the initial explosion in the crash.

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