East China Sea Tanker Continues to Burn

China boat crash

China boat crash

A tanker has collided with a bulk carrier in the East China Sea, leaving 32, the entire tanker crew, missing.

The tanker was carrying 136,000 metric tons (nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of gassy, ultra-light oil, when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal.

An official in Iran's Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and confirmed that 30 of the tanker's 32 crew members were Iranians.

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, Mr Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian television.

The oil tanker is said to still be on fire off the coast of Shanghai, and there is growing concern that it will explode and cause an environmental disaster. The South Korean coast guard also sent a vessel and rescue helicopter to the spot.

All 21 members of the crew in the Hong Kong registered vessel, which was carrying grains from the U.S., were rescued.

At 9am local time this morning the Ministry said it was searching for survivors as the Iranian vessel continued to blaze.

That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $76 million, based on global crude oil prices. The crew of the Crystal were all Chinese nationals.

The Panama-registered tanker, Sanchi, was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided late on Saturday with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometres off the coast of Shanghai, China's Ministry of Transport said.

The Panamanian-flagged 274-meter (899-foot) tanker Sanchi is "in danger of exploding or sinking", the ministry said.

The environmental impact was not immediately clear, and the Chinese government did not give details as to the size of the spill.

The missing seamen on board the Iranian ship, Sanchi, included 30 Iranians and two people described as "Bengalis" - who could be from Bangladesh. The Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement that the cause of the incident was under investigation.

CF Crystal, which was built in 2011, was due to arrive in China on January 10, according to Reuters ship tracking data. The accident was not affecting its operations on Monday, he said.

In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in crowded waters near Singapore, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spills.

It was the second accident in less than two years involving a tanker owned by the NITC.

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