A 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 a Chinese bulk ship, the Chinese government said on Sunday.
The Sanchi tanker, registered in Panama, collided with the CF Crystal some 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai on Saturday evening, the Ministry of Transportation said in statement on Sunday.
The tanker’s 32 crew members were missing on Sunday.
It was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes 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.
State media CCTV showed photos of the tanker ablaze and billowing plumes of thick dark smoke.
Reuters ship tracking data shows Sanchi was built in 2008 and is managed by the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC). Its registered owner is Bright Shipping Ltd.
It was due to arrive at Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran on Sunday, according to Reuters ship tracking.
It collided with CF Crystal, registered in Hong Kong, which was carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain from the United States to China’s southern province of Guangdong, the government said.
CF Crystal’s 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, have been rescued. It was due to arrive on Jan. 10, according to Reuters ship tracking data. Data showed it was built in 2011.
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.