A stricken Iranian oil tanker that was burning in the East China Sea for more than a week following a collision with a Chinese cargo ship has sunk.
Chinese state television reported that the ship sank shortly after a portion of its cargo "suddenly ignited" at about noon local time on January 14.
The Sanchi was set ablaze after a collision on January 6 with the CF Crystal, a ship carrying grain from the United States to China.
The collision took place off China’s coast near Shanghai, with the tanker then drifting southeast into the waters of Japan's economic exclusion zone.
The cause of the collision is still not known.
Shortly before the tanker sank, an Iranian official said there was "no hope of finding survivors among the members of the crew," comprised of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
Mohammad Rastad, a spokesman for an Iranian rescue team dispatched to the area, said the crew died due to the blast and the release of toxic gas, Iran’s state-run Press TV news channel reported.
Rescue workers boarded the vessel on January 13 and found the bodies of two crew members in a lifeboat. They also retrieved the ship's black box.
Another body was found during the week of salvage operations.
The Iranian government declared a day of national mourning on January 15 to honor "the brave mariners who died in the course of their mission to advance the country's goals," state media reported.
The crewmen of the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal were all rescued.
The Panama-flagged Sanchi, owned by Iran's top oil shipping operator National Iranian Tanker Co, was carrying almost 1 million barrels of condensate, an ultralight, highly flammable and explosive fuel, to South Korea.
Chinese officials said there was no major oil slick.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and IRNA