An Iranian oil tanker burst into flames from end to end and sank Sunday, eight days after a collision with a cargo ship off China, state media said.
The stricken tanker, called the Sanchi, which had been adrift and on fire for more than a week following the accident with another vessel in the East China Sea, had "suddenly ignited" around noon local time on Sunday, China Central Television said.
"Currently it has already sunk," CCTV said, citing the Shanghai maritime search and rescue centre. It showed video of a tower of billowing black smoke and flames on the surface of the water.
A Tehran official said even before news of the sinking that there was no hope of saving some 30 missing crewmen. But Chinese officials played down fears of a major environmental disaster.
The Sanchi, carrying 1,36,000 tonnes of light crude oil from Iran, had been in flames since colliding with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, on 6 January.
Around midday Sunday the ship "suddenly ignited", with the entire vessel burning fiercely and a pall of smoke around 800-1,000 metres high, China's transport ministry said, releasing dramatic pictures showing the entire vessel obscured by thick black smoke.
The ship later sank, the official news agency Xinhua cited the State Oceanic Administration as saying.
"There is no hope of finding survivors among the members of the crew," Mohammad Rastad, spokesman for the Iranian rescue team dispatched to Shanghai, told Iran's state broadcaster in Tehran before the tanker went down.
OneIndia News (with PTI inputs)