China Says 32 People, Mostly Iranians, Missing After Oil Tanker Collision

The Iranian oil tanker Sanchi burns after its collision with a freighter off China’s east coast

The ministry reported the crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis went missing late after the collision set the 274-meter oil tanker on fire late on January 6.

A tanker carrying Iranian oil that collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea over the weekend was still ablaze on Monday morning, a South Korean coast guard official told Reuters.

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

The accident happened about 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

The Chinese vessel had been damaged but "the safety of the ship was not jeopardized" and all its 21 Chinese crew had been rescued, officials from the Ministry of Transport said. "There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts".

He further said that the tanker was leased by a South Korean company.

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The ministry said it was heading to South Korea with its cargo. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices.

Four rescue ships and three cleaning boats had been sent to the site by 9 am local time on Sunday, the ministry added.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

Chinese maritime authorities have sent eight ships for the search and rescue operation and South Korea has sent a plane and a 3,000-tonne coastguard ship to help.

The last major oil tanker disaster was the sinking of the Prestige off Spain in November 2002, which was carrying 77,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and caused one of Europe's worst environmental catastrophes.

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