Sanchi crew stood no hope, says Iran PMO official

Sanchi seen burning before it sank. Credit: China Transport Ministry
Sanchi seen burning before it sank. Credit: China Transport Ministry

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization (PMO) managing director Mohammad Rastad said that the suddenness and intensity of the explosion meant that the crew of Sanchi stood no chance of survival.

Sanchi, built in 2008 and part of National Iranian Tanker Company’s fleet, collided with CF Crystal, a 2011-built Panamax bulk carrier, off Shanghai in the East China Sea on the evening of 6 January and burnt for more than a week before sinking on 14 January.

He added that at the time of the collision, some of the crew members were probably sleeping and could not react promptly.

“It is possible that at the time, the second or third office was in command of the bridge, with four cadets. We also believe that the captain was at the bridge. While the distance between the explosion spot and the crew cabins was 80 to 90 metres, the intensity of the explosion and the toxic gas was such that the crew had no time to do anything,” Rastad said in a press briefing.

Chinese rescuers found Sanchi’s voyage data recorder, equivalent of the black box, on 13 January.

Rastad said that it could take as long as three months for the investigators to release their findings, as China, being the jurisdiction where the accident happened, would be in charge of the probe.

Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of gas condensate from Assaluyeh, Iran, to Daesan, South Korea, when it collided with CF Crystal, which was shipping US wheat cargoes to Machong, China.

All 21 seafarers on CF Crystal, comprising Chinese nationals, were unhurt. CF Crystal has been brought to Luhuashan for investigations.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities said that an oil slick, 10 km long and 1 km wide, has formed in the waters around the collision. Experts said that the oil slick could affect marine life.