The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast Sunday, January 7, 2018. The 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.
Beijing (CNN) Thirty-two sailors are missing after an oil tanker and freight ship collided off the east coast of China Saturday, according to China’s Ministry of Transport. The missing – 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi citizens – all crew members from the Panama-registered tanker SANCHI, the ministry said. The collision took place approximately 160 nautical miles (184 statute miles) east of the mouth of the Yangtze River, at about 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), it said in a statement.
“The accident caused oil tanker ‘SANCHI’ to catch on fire, tilting to the right, losing contact with the crew,” it said.
32 crew members, incl. 30 Iranians & 2 Bengalese, have gone missing after a Panama-registered oil tanker and a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter collided off China’s east coast on Sat evening. Search and rescue are underway.
All 21 Chinese crew on board the Hong-Kong registered freighter the CF-Crystal were rescued, the ministry said.
The 274 meter-long (nearly 890 feet-long) SANCHI was carrying 136,000 tons of oil from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the CF Crystal, which had been transporting food from the United States to the Chinese province of Guangdong, it said.
The ministry said that the tanker was still afloat and burning Sunday morning 9 a.m. local time: “Until now, ‘SANCHI’ is floating and still on fire. There are fuel stains on the sea, the rescue is going on.”
The People’s Daily newspaper tweeted a photo that appeared to show the ship ablaze.
Chinese maritime officials have launched a search and rescue operation involving eight vessels, with support from South Korea, which has provided a coastguard ship and fixed wing aircraft, the ministry said.
Iran’s Shana news agency, which focuses on the country’s petroleum and energy sectors, reported that the SANCHI was managed by the National Iranian Tanker Company and that its cargo was worth around $60 million. Shana said the oil had been purchased by South Korean customers.