Iran dismisses media claims on destination of sunken oil tanker

FNA- Iran’s foreign ministry categorically dismissed media reports claiming that the Iranian oil tanker which sank after colliding with another vessel in the East China Sea was heading to North Korea, stressing that the vessel was heading to South Korea.

“As it was declared since the start of the bitter incident, the destination of the oil tanker was South Korea and any rumors and news other than this which are released in the cyberspace are sheer lies, rejected and wrong,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi told FNA on Monday.

He added that efforts are underway to find the bodies of the dead crew, noting that the black box of the oil tanker would disclose the cause of the incident.

Qassemi also appreciated China for its cooperation with Iran during the rescue operations, and said the type of the incident, the strong heat, the height of the columns of fire and the large volume of the condensates cargo had all made impossible access to the oil tanker.

Iranian officials underlined on Sunday that they would launch rigid probe into the cause of the collision of an Iranian oil tanker with another vessel in the East China Sea after all crews were declared officially dead.

“I want all relevant bodies, including the road and urban development, oil and foreign ministries, to precisely study the reason for the regrettable accident and pursue the issue legally to prevent similar accidents and restore the rights of the Iranian nation and the harmed families,” President Rouhani said in a message to extend his condolences to the Iranian nation over the tragedy.

He also called on officials to prioritize identification of the dead bodies of the Iranian crew of the tanker.

Iranian oil tanker Sanchi caught fire last Saturday night after it collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter carrying wheat from the US, about 160 nautical miles East of the Yangtze estuary.

Sanchi had been burning ever since despite international rescue efforts. Those efforts were hampered because of the scale of the fire and heat. The tanker was carrying 136,000 metric tons (nearly one million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, which kept on exploding.

Thirty two crew members were also on board, comprising 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

Iran dispatched a rescue team of its own, comprising Navy Commandos on speedboats, but the team was stuck some 1,000 meters away from the burning tanker due to the extreme heat. The ship almost sank on Sunday.