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32 missing, oil tanker on fire after collision off China
08 January 2018, 03:07 | Austin Hogan
An operation was underway to rescue the crew members, believed to be 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, according to the Xinhua news agency.
The 32 crew-members were on board the Sanchi - a Panama-registered vessel carrying 136,000 tons of oil - which caught fire after the collision 160 nautical miles (296 km) off the coast.
The tanker - carrying almost a million barrels of oil, worth about US$60m - had been sailing to Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran, according to Reuters shipping data.
The impact sparked a ferocious blaze and caused the tanker to spew cargo into the East China Sea, Chinese officials said. Chinese maritime authorities have dispatched eight vessels, including three specialised cleansing vessels, for search and rescue.
The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co.
CF Crystal's 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued and the ship suffered "non-critical" damage, China's transport ministry said. "There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts".
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By comparison, 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.
Dramatic pictures show plumes of black smoke rising from the scene as the ship is engulfed by a huge fire.
South Korea has also sent a ship and helicopter to help, Reuters reported.
Shipping experts said the incident could potentially disrupt shipping in and around Shanghai, one of the world's largest and busiest ports.
The Iranian tanker, Sanchi, is ablaze and leaking oil after colliding with the Hong Kong-registered vessel CF Crystal.
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