Burning Iranian oil tanker finally sinks after massive explosion

China to continue all-out rescue of missing foreign sailors: FM

China disputed claims Tuesday about inadequate efforts to save the crew of tanker Sanchi, saying they are "untrue and irresponsible".

The Panama-registered Iranian oil tanker, Sanchi, collided with a Hong Kong cargo ship on January 6, 160 nautical miles (296 km) from China's east coast near Shanghai, and caught fire shortly after the collision. On January 8 the bulker was escorted by a rescue vessel into Zhoushan, south of Shanghai, where it is now moored.

Iranian officials said on Sunday the remaining 29 crew members and passengers of the tanker were presumed dead. The Zhoushan fishing ground where the crash occurred is known as one of the biggest in the East China Sea, particularly for mackerel and croaker, according to Greenpeace. Because the oil slick is drifting southeast away from the coastal area where it sank in the East China sea, the spill isn't having a significant impact on the marine ecological environment around the shore, according to a report by China National Radio Monday.

A Chinese salvage team on Saturday recovered two bodies from the tanker, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.

A rescue ship sails near the burning Sanchi.

The sinking will likely spill the remaining condensate as well as the tanker's bunker fuel, a heavy oil which powers the ship's engines.

A third body, presumed to be one of the crew, was found in the ocean near the ship on Monday and has been taken to Shanghai for identification.

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"The area is also on the migratory pathway of many marine mammals, such as humpback whales, right whales and grey whales".

The blazing vessel, which was carrying 136,000 tonnes - nearly one million barrels - of condensate, an ultra-light, highly flammable crude oil, sank on Sunday evening after several explosions weakened the hull.

Just three bodies from the tanker Sanchi's crew of 32, composed of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, have been recovered.

Bunker fuel is the dirtiest kind of oil, extremely toxic when spilled, though less explosive.

A harmful plume of condensate would likely be in the water, out of sight of observers on the surface, said Rick Steiner, a USA marine scientist based in Anchorage, Alaska, who has experience of oil spills.

"It is virtually certain that much of the condensate went into the sea in solution, and that toxic underwater hydrocarbon plume will injure marine life exposed to it", Steiner said. "The cargo is still on fire, so it is hard to figure out if oil is being spilled", Park Sung-dong, an official from South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, told Reuters. It had been adrift and ablaze after crashing into the freighter CF Crystal on Jan 6.

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