China planning to send robot submarine to sunken ship

The cause of the collision remains under investigation. All 21 crew members of the freighter were reported safe.

world Updated: Jan 17, 2018 17:01 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Beijing
China,sunken ship,robot submarine
A Chinese rescue ship works to clean oil slicks from the sunken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi in the East China Sea, in this January 15, 2018 handout picture released by China's Ministry of Transport January 17, 2018.(Reuters File Photo)

China is preparing to send a robot submarine possibly followed by divers to explore and plug holes in a sunken Iranian oil tanker whose 32 crew members are all believed to have died, the transport ministry said Wednesday.

No timeline was given from the deployment, although the Shanghai Maritime Search and Rescue Centre and a Hong Kong newspaper said authorities will send larger salvage vessels to support the operation.

They said divers might also be able to pump out oil from the 85,000-ton vessels’ fuel tanks before they leak and contaminate the seabed.

China said that the Sanchi was lying under 115 meters (377 feet) of water in the East China Sea. It caught fire after colliding with a freighter on Jan. 6 and exploded and sunk on Sunday about 530 kilometers (330 miles) southeast of Shanghai.

The report said that an oil slick 58 square kilometers (22 square miles) in size from its cargo of natural gas condensate is being monitored for potential environmental damage with cleanup efforts being organized.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation. All 21 crew members of the freighter were reported safe.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 17:00 IST