BEIJING (AP) – An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s eastern coast, leaving its entire crew of 32 missing, most of them Iranians, authorities said yesterday.
The missing – 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis – are all from the tanker Sanchi, which spilled oil and was floating while still burning early yesterday, said Chinese maritime authorities, who dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene.
Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with smoke plumes daytime yesterday.
The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and an airplane to aid the search effort.
The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal 257 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai late Saturday, the Ministry of Transport said.
All 21 members of the Crystal’s crew – all Chinese nationals – were rescued, the ministry said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.
The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, while the Crystal was carrying grain from the United States, according to Chinese authorities.
The size of the oil slick caused by the accident was not immediately known.
The tanker has operated under five different names in the time since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations-run International Maritime Organization.
The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., care of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.