Feb. 12 (UPI) — The bodies of the sailors on the Sanchi oil tanker, which sank after colliding with a Chinese freighter, are on their way to Iran, Iran’s news agency reported.
The Islamic Republic News Agency reported the bodies of the Iranians are on their way to the international airport in Tehran after the appropriate legal procedures were cleared on Sunday. Only three bodies were recovered from the mid-January sinking.
There were 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi crew members on board the Sanchi oil tanker when it collided with a Chinese freighter carrying grain from the United States in early January. The Sanchi was loaded with about 1 million barrels of a light form of crude oil called condensate to South Korea when it crashed.
The tanker burned for more than a week before it sank Jan. 14, sealing the fate for the estimated 29 crew members still on board. Iranian authorities are still reviewing data from the black box device, which was opened Jan. 23, to determine the cause of the accident.
Greenpeace International in early February said it seems “likely” that oil washing up on the southern Japanese island of Takarajima was from Sanchi. The sheen from Sanchi was estimated to cover about 125 square miles as of late January.
The worst maritime spill of this kind occurred when 2.1 million barrels of oil leaked from the Atlantic Empress off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago in 1979.
Iran is working through a multilateral team on response and investigation into the sinking.