TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended his sincere condolences on the deaths of 32 crew members of an Iranian oil tanker that sank on Sunday days after a collision with another vessel in the East China Sea.

In a message on Sunday, Rouhani said the “tragic” and “heart-breaking” incident during which the entire crew of the oil tanker lost their lives in the East China Sea has deeply saddened the Iranian nation.

He extended his heartfelt condolences to the Iranian people and bereaved families of the victims.

Elsewhere in his message, the Iranian president stressed that determining the identity of the fallen should be a priority now to relieve their families’ pain and suffering.  

He further called on all relevant organizations to take necessary measures to immediately determine the reason behind the tragic event and prevent any similar incidents in the future.

 Iranian Minister of Cooperative, Labor and Welfare Ali Rabiee earlier said the country will continue the operation to find the bodies of the crew members. 

“…We are still going to make efforts to find the bodies of the individuals,” the minister added.

The “Sanchi” tanker that had caught fire during a crash in the East China Sea on January 6 went under water on Sunday after burning for eight days.

The Iranian oil tanker sank around midday Sunday after the spread of fire to new oil condensate tanks created blazes as high as 100 meters and increased temperature to 350 degrees Celsius (660 degrees Fahrenheit).

 Sunday’s raging inferno made it impossible for the rescuers to even approach the ship.

Sanchi, with 32 people on board, including 30 Iranians, collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea on January 6 and had been burning ever since.

While China’s search and rescue teams recovered three bodies from the main deck and retrieved the vessel’s black box, a group of Iranian naval commandos were dispatched to the crash site for rescue operation, but could not take action because of unsafe conditions.

The Panama-registered tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra-light crude that is highly flammable, to South Korea.