Ships collide off China coast, 32 missing

  • Ships collide off China coast, 32 missing

Ships collide off China coast, 32 missing

The Chinese Transport Ministry says 32 people, majority Iranians, are missing from an oil tanker that collided with a cargo ship off the east coast of China.

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

China's Xinhua news agency said eight Chinese ships were dispatched in a search-and-rescue operation. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals.

"Sanchi is floating and burning", said China's ministry of transport in a statement.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. "There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts".

Dramatic pictures show plumes of black smoke rising from the scene as the ship is engulfed by a huge fire. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons (nearly one million barrels) of condensate and headed for South Korea.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations -run International Maritime Organization.

The Panama-flagged oil tanker collided with the Hong Kong freighter on Saturday night, approximately 300 kilometres east of Shanghai. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

Some 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis who were working on the oil tanker are missing. "We can not say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services".

Iran's oil ministry has confirmed that at least 30 Iranian citizens were missing in oil tanker incident. The ministry said it was heading to South Korea with its cargo.