Hope of Finding Sanchi Survivors Wanes

The hope of finding any survivors of the now sunken Iranian tanker Sanchi has diminished, according to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO).

Based on witness accounts from local fishermen, the tanker exploded immediately after the crash with the bulker CF Crystal on January 6, and the 32 crew members did not have enough time to save their lives, Mohammad Rastad, a spokesman for the Iranian rescue team dispatched to Shanghai said.

The local fishermen could only save the crew of the Hong Kong-bulker following the crash, while the entire crew of the ill-fated Sanchi crew is believed to have died due to the explosion and subsequent fire as well as the release of poisonous gases.

Rastad added that the organization is yet to interview the bulker’s crew on the incident as previous attempts to do so have been futile.

Iranian authorities did not want to give up hopes on the crew surviving the blast until the last moment and had believed the crew took shelter in the ship’s engine room.

However, initial findings into the incident have proven otherwise.

Only three bodies have been recovered from the ship before it went down and are yet to be identified.

The ill-fated Iranian tanker Sanchi sank on January 14, having suffered another explosion around 12 o’clock which sunk it some 151 nautical miles southeast of the incident site in the afternoon hours, China’s Ministry of Transport informed.

The flames reached 800 to 1,000 meters high at the time, while oil spills from the ship continued burning in the area where the ship went down.

Efforts on dousing the fire lasted for a week but the extent of the blaze and poisonous gases emanating from the ship along with inclement weather conditions on site hampered the firefighting operation.

On January 13, a Shanghai salvage team, which boarded the tanker, managed to recover Sanchi’s voyage data recorder before being forced to leave the ship due to thick toxic smoke on board.

Commenting on the incident, PMO’s Deputy Director Hadi Haghshenas stressed that all technical equipment on board Sanchi was working properly and that the ship did not have any technical problems which might have led to the collision.

Various reasons have been identified as potential causes of the crash including navigation issues and misunderstanding between the ships about their routes and potential redirection.

However, the exact cause of the collision is yet to be determined once the vessel’s black box is inspected, a process which might take up to three months.

World Maritime News Staff


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