32 sailors missing after Iranian ship collides with bulk freighter off China's east coast

An oil tanker registered in Panama caught on fire after a collision with a bulk freighter off the coast of Shanghai on Saturday night. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 07, 2018, 11.02 AM (IST)

An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s eastern coast, leaving 32 crew members missing on Saturday night.

Of those missing were 30 Iranian nationals and two from Bangladesh, according to the Chinese government. The 21 rescued were all Chinese nationals.

Thick clouds of dark smoke could be seen billowing out of the Sanchi tanker, engulfing the vessel as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather and fire on and around the ship, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian television.

The Sanchi collided with the CF Crystal about 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai on Saturday evening, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation said in a statement.

The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra-light crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices.

A search operation is being carried out by the Chinese and South Korean authorities. 

"There is a wide perimeter of flames around the vessel because of the spillage and search and rescue efforts are being carried out with difficulty," Rastad said.

"Unfortunately, up to this moment, there is no news of the crew," he said.

Eight vessels have dispatched by the Chinese maritime authorities for search and rescue operation.

South Korea has dispatched a coast guard ship and a fixed-wing aircraft to assist in the search and rescue operation.