BEIJING – An Iranian oil tanker that sank in the East China Sea has left a large oil slick, Chinese state television said on Monday, raising concerns over the environmental damage the collision could cause.
The 18.5-kilometer (10.5-mile)-long oil slick is the result of a Jan. 6 collision between the Iranian tanker and a Hong-Kong registered freighter.
A large and sudden explosion caused the tanker to sink on Sunday, eight days after the accident, China’s ministry of transport said.
Search and rescue operations have led to the discovery of three bodies out of a total of 32 missing sailors, who are presumed dead.
Investigations into the cause of the disaster were ongoing.
Officials from China’s State Oceanic Administration were studying the extent of the spill from the vessel, which was transporting 136,000 tons of refined petroleum when it crashed, state television CCTV said.
Experts were also examining the vessel’s black box, which they recovered from the ship shortly before it sank.
“We think the black box will be helpful in investigating the cause of the accident,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Lu Kang, said at a press conference Monday.
He said that China welcomed other countries’ participation in the rescue operations and subsequent tasks “as no one wants to see a large scale secondary disaster.”
Ships from Japan and South Korea last week joined in attempts to extinguish the fire and rescue Sanchi’s crew.
Lu paid tribute to the Chinese rescuers who had risked their lives trying to extinguish fire and boarded the ship to retrieve two bodies and the black box.
Sanchi collided with a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter CF Crystal, about 300 kilometers east of the estuary of the Yangtze River near Shanghai, and sank about 280 kilometers southeast of the point of collision after drifting for eight days.