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EghtesadOnline: The National Iranian Oil Company is awaiting further investigation into the disastrous fate of its oil tanker Sanchi, as it aims to eschew a diplomatic showdown with China over one of the worst maritime incidents in recent history, the NITC chief said on Wednesday.

“The incident should be probed from different angles … We should first learn more about the collision of Sanchi and CF Crystal,” Sirous Kianersi said, referring to the freight ship that collided with NITC-owned Sanchi on Jan. 6, ILNA reported.

Sanchi sank on Jan. 14 off the coast of China after search and rescue teams failed to tame the tanker’s blaze or save its 32 crew members, all of whom are confirmed to be dead.

Panama-flagged Sanchi was hauling about 1 million barrels of ultra light condensate from the Persian Gulf to South Korea’s port of Daesan when it collided with CF Crystal that was en route from the US to Guangdong, southeast China. The statements by Kianersi come amid mounting pressure from public opinion that China could have done more to save the vessel or its crew, according to Financial Tribune.

Kianersi brushed off the idea of filing a case against China, Iran's largest crude customer and one of its top trade partners.

"It is not appropriate to discuss filing a complaint, because it would have diplomatic repercussions. But the Foreign Ministry is pursuing the matter," Kianersi said without elaboration.

IRNA reported on Wednesday that the General Inspectorate Organization of Iran, an affiliated body of the judicial system, has launched an independent probe into the Sanchi incident.

Spilling thousands of barrels of oil and fuel into the sea, Sanchi has been described as one of the worst maritime disasters in the last few decades. Iranian officials and media have raised the question as to whether Chinese salvage crew deliberately slackened their efforts to allow Sanchi's fuel to burn off and avoid environmental pollution.

Representatives of Iran, China, Panama and the manufacturing company of Sanchi's voyage data recorder launched a joint probe into the incident last month.  Officials say the examination of Sanchi's black box could last three months.

Kianersi also said underwater robots could help shed light on how the collision happened, but suggested any action by Iran depends on examining Sanchi's VDR.

"I moved to the site of the incident two days after it happened … Nothing can be said at this stage. There are various legal disputes, [but] we must wait for data from the black box," he said.

Rescue teams are reportedly working against the clock to clean up oil slicks. China's State Oceanic Administration is preparing to use professional air-sea stereoscopic equipment to continuously carry out monitoring. They are paying increased attention to protecting the valuable marine ecosystem and find solutions to safeguard the health and livelihood of residents at risk of the oil spills.

 

NITC Iran Oil Company Iran oil tanker Sanchi Sanchi Row