Oil tanker collides with vessel off China coast, 32 crew members missing

08 January, 2018, 05:52 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs

Chinese maritime authorities have dispatched eight vessels, including three specialised cleansing vessels, for search and rescue.

A tanker carrying Iranian oil that collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea on Saturday was still ablaze this morning, a South Korean coast guard official said as emergency rescue teams continued to search for the missing crew. All 21 Chinese crew members on the bulk freighter have been rescued. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It was not immediately clear how much environmental damage had been caused or the volume of oil spilled into the sea.

State-run China Central Television said the tanker was floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

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Dramatic pictures show plumes of black smoke rising from the scene as the ship is engulfed by a huge fire.

The 274-meter-long oil tanker SANCHI, owned by an Iranian shipping company, was heading to South Korea with its cargo.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels off Alaska in 1989.

The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd, on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co, a publicly traded company based in Tehran.

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The incident also marked the first major maritime incident involving an Iranian tanker since the lifting of global sanctions against Iran in January 2016.

An operation was underway to rescue the crew members, believed to be 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, according to the Xinhua news agency.

"We are working very closely with the relevant authorities to establish the facts surrounding the collision", it said in a statement.

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