Iranian sailors stuck at blazing tanker likely alive: Iran diplomat

IRNA – Iranian seamen who got missing after an Iranian tanker collided with a Chinese freighter in the East China coast may still be alive, a senior consular official announced on Thursday.

‘If the crew had a chance to run to the bottom of the ship, they might be still alive,’ Hassan Qashqavi, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Expatriates Affairs told reporters in this southern Iranian island.

As for the rescue operation carried out after the Saturday collision, Qashqavi said a Japanese vessel has been dispatched to the scene to help fight the fire which is now contained but still continues after five days.

An Iranian tanker carrying gas condensates collided with a Chinese freight ship in East China coast on Saturday night, and the 32 members of the crew went missing. One body was found on Monday, and according to Iran’s officials, the body belongs to one of the Iranian seamen.

Qashqavi went on to say that Iran’s Consulate General in China is following up the process of getting permission to dispatch rescue forces to find the tanker’s crew, two of whom are Bangladeshi.

If the permission is given, Iran will take the high risk of being present in the scene, Qashqavi said.

Presently, he said, the fire is tamed and the rescue operation to search the missing will continue with more speed.

President Hassan Rouhani in a meeting on Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh and Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi called for employing all national and regional capacities to determine the fate of the crew.

Following the President’s order, a special committee was formed to pursue the issue.

The operation to put out the fire of the Iranian tanker began early on Wednesday, Iran’s consul general in Shanghai Alireza Irvash announced on Wednesday.