Iranian oil tanker burns, 32 missing after collision off China's coast

Iranian tanker burns spills oil after collision off China’s coast

A tanker carrying Iranian oil that collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea on Saturday was still ablaze this morning, a South Korean coast guard official said as emergency rescue teams continued to search for the missing crew.

The Sanchi tanker, registered in Panama, collided with the CF Crystal some 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai on Saturday evening, the Ministry of Transportation said in statement on Sunday.

There were 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on the tanker, but all were missing as of Sunday, Chinese authorities said.

China's Xinhua news agency said eight Chinese ships were dispatched in a search-and-rescue operation.

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The ministry said all 21 Chinese crew members were rescued from the damaged cargo vessel.

The 274-meter-long tanker was still ablaze on Sunday and images on Chinese television showed huge clouds of smoke rising from the stricken vessel.

The foreign ministry said China had deployed specialised "cleaning ships" to the scene to minimise environmental damage.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the collision.

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There was a collision involving an NITC-operated supertanker in the Singapore Strait in August 2016, but there was no loss of life or pollution. Norwegian ship insurer Skuld has confirmed it was the lead hull insurer for the tanker and the protection and indemnity (P&I) insurer for CF Crystal.

The tanker, managed by the National Iranian Tanker Company, was insured by internationally credited insurers, according to Iran's oil ministry.

"Our ship and plane have arrived at the site and are working closely with Chinese maritime authorities", a coastguard official said.

The second vessel was Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain, AFP reported.

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CF Crystal, which was built in 2011, was due to arrive in China on January 10, according to Reuters ship tracking data.

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