Finger-pointing at China’s efforts in Iran tanker tragedy ‘not fair’: expert
By CGTN’s The Point
The Sanchi, with 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on board, sank on Sunday after a sudden and powerful explosion following eight days of burning. Three bodies were retrieved, and Tehran says there’s “no hope” for the missing sailors. All 21 Chinese crewmembers on the freighter survived.
“The finger-pointing toward the rescuers, as somehow ‘not doing enough’ is not fair,” said Rockford Weitz, director of the Maritime Studies Program at the Fletcher School at Tufts University in Massachusetts, on CGTN’s The Point. He added that an oil tanker on fire would pose extremely difficult challenges for any rescuers.
Weitz's comments responded to Iran’s accusations that China was not doing enough in its firefighting efforts on the Sanchi oil tanker that collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter on January 6 in the East China Sea.
“It was clear that the Chinese are not cooperating enough,” AFP quoted Saman Rezaie, vice president of the Iranian Merchant Mariners Syndicate as saying. Rezaie said he had written to Chinese authorities expressing this frustration.
“There’s no reason for China somehow to delay the search and rescue efforts,” Xu Qinduo, a Chinese current affairs commentator, argued, stressing that people should see the difference in the accidents. The oil tanker carried highly flammable condensate that caught fire after the collision, spewing toxic gas and generating very high temperatures. Rescuers did what they could to return with bodies and the voyage data recorder followed with drone monitoring, Xu added.
“Shifting the effort toward environmental cleanup and mitigating the potential risks, particularly to the fishing grounds in the [East] China Sea, is very important and the right thing to do,” Weitz said. Given that the ship sank with over 100,000 tons of condensate carried, it could become a major environmental disaster, he believed.
The Point with Liu Xin is a 30-minute current affairs program on CGTN. It airs weekdays at 9.30 p.m. BJT (1330GMT), with rebroadcasts at 5.30 a.m. (2130GMT) and 10.30 a.m. (0230GMT).