32 lacking, oil spills out after tanker collision off China

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By GERRY SHIH

BEIJING — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught hearth off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s total crew of 32 lacking and inflicting it to spill oil into the ocean, authorities mentioned Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleansing ships to the scene after the collision, which occurred late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard additionally despatched a ship and a aircraft to assist seek for the lacking crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was crusing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal within the East China Sea, 160 miles off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport mentioned.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, had been rescued, the ministry mentioned. The Crystal’s crew members had been all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t instantly clear what triggered the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday night that the tanker was nonetheless floating and burning, and that oil was seen within the water.

It was not clear, nevertheless, whether or not the tanker was nonetheless spilling oil. The dimension of the oil slick brought on by the accident additionally was not identified.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried photos of the tanker on hearth with giant plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 150,000 tons, or practically 1 million barrels of condensate, a kind of ultra-light oil, based on Chinese authorities.

By comparability, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated below 5 totally different names because it was in-built 2008, in accordance the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered proprietor as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded firm primarily based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as working the biggest tanker fleet within the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to talk to reporters, mentioned 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members had been Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he mentioned. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official mentioned the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean firm, Hanwha Total Co. He mentioned the tanker was on its approach to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil big Total. Total didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in lower than a 12 months and a half. In August 2016, considered one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship within the Singapore Strait, damaging each ships however inflicting no accidents or oil spill.

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Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

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