32 people missing after oil tanker & cargo ship collide off Chinese coast
Search and rescue operations are underway for 32 people who went missing after an oil tanker collided with a cargo ship off the eastern coast of China and caught fire.
The collision between the Panama-registered oil tanker "SANCHI" and Hong Kong freighter "CF CRYSTAL" happened at around 8:00pm local time Saturday, 160 nautical miles east of the mouth of the Yangtze River, Xinhua reports citing the Chinese Ministry of Transport. The accident caused a massive fire onboard the "SANCHI," forcing the tanker to tilt to the right. Thirty-two sailors from the Panamian vessel remain missing, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.
The fate of the missing sailors in still unknown as the scale of the fire does not allow the collision site to be approached, according to Iranian officials.
“Most of the crew were Iranians and as no one can approach the ship from a one-kilometer distance (because of the big fire that started after the collusion), acquiring any information about the situation of the passengers and crew is difficult,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi told Fars News Agency on Sunday.
The "CF CRYSTAL" was also damaged in the collision, but its crew of 21 is safe after being rescued by East China Sea patrol boats that were dispatched to the scene.
The emergency operation is continuing Sunday morning. Several maritime police vessels, two rescue boats and three professional cleaning ships were dispatched to the area. The Shanghai Fire Department has sent experts to help battle the flames, and the South Korean Marine Police Agency deployed a marine police ship and a fixed-wing aircraft to help with the search and rescue effort.
The 274 meter long "SANCHI" tanker was hired by an Iranian company to deliver 136,000 tons of fuel to South Korea, according to information provided by Xinhua. The 225 meter "CF CRYSTAL" was carrying 64,000 tons of grain from the United States, en route to the Guangdong Province in China when the collision occurred.