China says claims of inadequate rescue of sunken oil tanker "untrue, irresponsible"

China planning to send robot sub down to sunken oil tanker

The State Oceanic Administration of China said late Wednesday that it was monitoring four slicks with a total area of nearly 101 square kilometres (39 square miles), roughly the same size as Paris.

"The swathe of oil slick is being diffused and disappearing", the coast guard said in a statement.

All of the ship's crew - 30 Iranians and 2 Bangladeshis - are presumed dead at this point, although only three bodies have been recovered so far.

Satellites watching over the remains of Iranian tanker Sanchi, which sank days ago with all hands on deck off the coast of China, are revealing a risky legacy: several large slicks that stretch for miles in the East China Sea.

The clean-up is now currently underway, with Chinese, Japanese and Korean vessels being dispatched to monitor the drift, assess the ecological damage and stop the flow of condensate, a colorless hydrocarbon liquid typically used for making petrochemicals such as jet fuel.

The Zhoushan fishing area contains the Zhoushan archipelagos, with a population of almost one million, including over 300,000 fishermen.

One of the slicks, about 18 kms in length and 300 metres wide, was found about 11 kms north of the sunken tanker, and another, about 20 kms long and about 500 metres wide, was found 2 kms southwest of the wreck, it said. However, citing China's State Oceanic Administration, Reuters reports that satellite imagery has revealed two slicks of a combined 42 square miles.

It is also on the migratory pathway of numerous marine mammals, such as humpback and gray whales. The spill continues to grow.

Chinese authorities said there were four separate slicks that had formed after the Panama-registered Sanchi tanker sank Sunday.

On Wednesday, China's Ministry of Transportation said it discovered the vessel, located 115 meters underwater.

The scale of the Sanchi's tanks could make this the worst tanker spill since 1991.

"Today we heard two vessels bumped into each other in the East Sea area and said 200 metric tons of crude oil leaked into the sea".

Condensate oil's high volatility means it evaporates more easily than heavier crudes.

"If the entire 1 million bbl cargo is released (which seems likely at this point), this will be the largest condensate spill in history".

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