In his Sunday message, the Leader expressed his “sincere condolences to the bereaved families and relatives of the sailors who died after their oil tanker [Sanchi] caught fire and sank.”
Ayatollah Khamenei described the incident as a bitter, heart-wrenching, truly catastrophic and saddening one, and besought God Almighty “to bring consolation and peace upon their sorrowful hearts.”
“Those loved ones lost their lives in the line of duty and while serving their country, and this is a great honour which may alleviate the burden of this grief and console the hearts of those affected,” the Leader added.
“I ask God Almighty for mercy and blessing [upon the souls] of them (the victims) and fortitude and reward for their survivors,” he noted.
The Leader’s message came as the country will observe a day of national mourning on Monday, according to a decision by President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet.
Iranian oil tanker Sanchi caught fire last Saturday night after it collided with the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter carrying wheat from the US, about 160 nautical miles east of the Yangtze estuary.
Despite efforts by rescue teams during the past week, only three bodies were recovered from the ship, and the fate of the remaining sailors remained unclear. Those efforts were hampered because of the scale of the fire and heat.
The vessel finally fully sank on Sunday, January 14, and all hopes for finding the missing people faded.
Available evidence indicates that all crew members died soon after it collided with another vessel and a powerful blast ensued.
Mohammad Rastad, a spokesman for the Special Task Force established over the incident, said on Saturday that there was no hope to find the crew members alive.
Thirty two crew members were on board, comprising 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.