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Crew of 32 missing after ships collide off eastern China

Crew of 32 missing after ships collide off eastern China

The Iranian tanker, Sanchi, is ablaze and leaking oil after colliding with the Hong Kong-registered vessel CF Crystal.

A tanker carrying Iranian oil and run by the country's top oil shipping operator was ablaze and spewing cargo into the East China Sea on Sunday after colliding with a Chinese bulk ship, leaving its 32 crew members missing, the Chinese government said. The 225-meter-long second vessel CF CRYSTAL, carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain, was partly damaged in the collision.

Chinese maritime authorities have sent eight ships for the search and rescue operation and South Korea has sent a plane and a 3,000-tonne coastguard ship to help.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. 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". That is equivalent to just under one million barrels, worth about $76 million, based on global crude oil prices.

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

Reuters reports that the Panama-flagged Sanchi is managed by the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), owned by Bright Shipping and chartered by Hanwha Total Petrochemical. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

It was not known if any of the tanker's missing 32 crew members had been rescued, said the official, who declined to give his name as he was not authorized to speak to media.