Burning Iranian oil tanker finally sinks in East China Sea after accident

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An Iranian oil tanker that has been ablaze for nearly a week after colliding with another vessel in the East China Sea has finally sunk, Chinese state media reports.

China Central Television said the Sanchi, which had drifted into Japan's exclusive economic zone, "suddenly ignited" around noon, with flames spreading from end to end, before sinking. The ship sank before 5pm, CCTV said.

Two bodies of crew members and the black box were found after four marine salvage workers from the Shanghai Salvage Bureau boarding on oil tanker SANCHI off the coast of Shanghai on January 13, according to the Wechat account of China's Ministry of Transport.

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Dramatic photos of the scene showed tall flames raging on board the ship, which was carrying nearly a million barrels of crude oil.

There are 13 vessels near where the collision took place, including two Japanese ships and a South Korean one. Rescuers stayed aboard less than 30 minutes but were able to recover the ship's data and video recordings, it said.

The Chinese freighter had 21 crew members, all of whom were reported safe. A Chinese salvage team recovered two bodies from the deck of the tanker on Saturday. But salvage workers were prevented from entering a living room on SANCHI's first floor as the inner temperature had reached 89 degrees Celcius.