According to the Chinese government on Sunday, the tanker carrying Iranian oil and operated by the country’s top oil shipping operator was ablaze and spewing its cargo into the East China Sea on Sunday after colliding with the Chinese ship.
The Sanchi tanker registered in Panama, collided with the CF Crystal some 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai on Saturday evening, the Chinese ministry said in a statement on Sunday, media reports said.
The tanker’s 32 crew members were missing on Sunday, including 30 Iranians and 2 Bangladeshis. Search and rescue operation is underway.
All 21 members of the Crystal’s crew, all Chinese nationals, were rescued, the ministry said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.
Meantime, a senior official at Iran’s Oil Ministry said the tanker was under the effective coverage of a credible foreign company.
It was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra-light crude. That’s equivalent to just under 1 million barrels worth around $60 million based on current global crude oil prices.
“Sanchi is floating and burning as of now. There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts,” the ministry said, adding it had dispatched four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to site as of 9 a.m. (0100 GMT).
South Korea has also sent a ship and helicopter to help.
This is the second collision involving an NITC-operated vessel in recent years. An Iranian supertanker hit a container ship in the Singapore Strait, with no loss of life or pollution, in August 2016.