Photos: Iranian tanker on fire after crashing into Chinese ship and spilling tonnes of oil into the ocean

  • A huge fire broke out on an Iranian oil tanker days after it collided with a Chinese ship in the East China Sea.
  • The Sanchi had been carrying $US60 million worth of natural gas condensate.

Dramatic new photos show a Iranian oil tanker sinking and burning after it collided with a Chinese vessel in the East China Sea earlier this month.

The photos, released by China’s Ministry of Transport on Monday, show a plume of smoke emanating from the Sanchi tanker, while a nearby firefighting ship attempts to put out the fire.

The fire broke out on the Sanchi following a large explosion around noon on Sunday, the Associated Press reported. The tanker sank “within hours,” the AP said, and kept burning until noon on Monday.

The Sanchi collided with the CF Crystal, a Chinese cargo ship, in waters near Shanghai on January 6 while sailing from Iran to South Korea, Reuters reported.

The Sanchi, registered in Panama and run by Iran’s largest oil shipping operator, had been carrying 136,000 tonnes of natural gas condensate, Reuters said. That’s the equivalent of just under one million barrels or $US60 million worth of oil.

The Sanchi also left a ten-square-kilometre area contaminated with condensate, the AP said. Although condensate easily burns off or evaporates in a fire, it could seriously harm the marine environment if trapped underwater.

All 21 crew aboard the Chinese ship were rescued after the collision, while all 32 members of Sanchi’s crew – 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis – have been presumed dead, according to Sky News.

The second photo below shows an aerial view of firefighting boats putting out another blaze on Sanchi on January 10, before the final flare-up.

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