Two bodies recovered from burning oil tanker adrift off China coast

Chinese salvage teams manage to board the stricken Iranian vessel Sanchi before being driven back by temperatures of 89C

A Chinese salvage team has recovered two bodies from a stricken Iranian oil tanker that was still blazing a week after it caught fire and was left adrift following a collision in the East China Sea, the state news agency Xinhua reported.

The four members of the salvage team wore respirators to board the Sanchi on Saturday, where they found the two bodies on the deck.

They tried to get to the living quarters but were driven back by temperatures on the burning ship of about 89C (192F), Xinhua said.

The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, told his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, by telephone that “as long as there is 1% of hope, China will continue to make 100% effort” in rescue operations, according to a report on the ministry website.

The body of a mariner thought to be from the ship was recovered on Monday and sent to Shanghai for identification. The rest of the crew, which included 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, remains missing.

The salvage team recovered the voyage data recorder, or “black box”, from the bridge before leaving the vessel less than half an hour after boarding because the wind had shifted and thick, toxic smoke had complicated the operation, Xinhua said.