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Iranians mark anniversary of Sanchi oil tanker sinking

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this photo taken on January 14, 2018 and provided by China's Transport MInistry, the burning Iranian oil tanker Sanchi is seen partially sunk in the East China Sea off the eastern coast of China. (Via AP)

Iranians are marking the first anniversary of the worst oil ship disaster in decades that claimed the lives of dozens of people off China’s shores.

On January 6, 2018, Panama-registered tanker Sanchi, which was run by Iran’s top oil shipping operator the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), collided with the Hong Kong-registered Chinese freighter Crystal in the East China Sea.

Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes - around 1 million barrels - of oil from Iran's Kharg Island to South Korea's Daesan.

The catastrophic collision took place about 160 nautical miles off the coast of China near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta.

Sanchi sank on January 14 after burning for eight days and drifting in the waters. The entire crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis lost their lives.

However, all 21 crew members of the Chinese vessels were rescued. The freighter was carrying grain from the United States to China.

Salvage teams managed to board the stricken Iranian tanker and recover three bodies before being driven back by the extremely hot temperatures.

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China, Iran and Panama launched a joint probe into the incident.

Last May, they signed an investigation report, reaching a consensus on the basic facts surrounding the tragedy, including the properties of Sanchi's cargo, identification of the crew, time of the collision and process of the accident, according to the Chinese Transport Ministry.

The inquiry found that both ships had failed to determine if risk of collision existed.

Nader Pasandideh, in charge of the Iranian investigating panel, pinpointed human error as the primary cause of the accident and explained that the CF Crystal crew had failed to change direction despite an alert from Sanchi about 15 minutes before the collision.

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