China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said in a statement that it detected fires and dense black smoke in a large area around the Panama-registered oil tanker at around 10 am (local time) today and the entire ship sank at around 3 pm. "They burned to ashes while their families were wailing here!" cried out one woman who didn't give her name. Sanchi was carrying about 1 million barrels of an ultra-light form of oil called condensate to South Korea when it hit the Chinese freighter, loaded with grain from the United States.
A body found earlier last week is believed to be another of the 32 crew members, which included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
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For his part, Ali Rabiei President's Special Aide and chairman of the Committee to Follow-Up Sanchi Oil Tanker Case called on Chinese relief and rescue teams to spare no effort in the firefighting operations. The ship then sank into the sea.
Iran's Shana news agency reported that the Sanchi was managed by the National Iranian Tanker Company and its cargo was worth around $60 million.
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A Chinese salvage team on Saturday recovered two bodies from the tanker.
"Despite our efforts, it has not been possible to extinguish the fire and recover the bodies due to repeated explosions and gas leaks", Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization, said.
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Hawaii US Senator Brian Schatz tweeted the false alarm was "totally inexcusable" and was caused by human error. Even hours after the false alert was sent, the islands were still reacting to the earlier scare.
The tanker was carrying a cargo of almost 1 million barrels of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil that readily evaporates or burns off in a fire, reducing the chance of a major oil spill. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.