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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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Iran oil tanker collides off China’s coast, dozens missing

32 crew members missing

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BEIJING, China - An Iranian oil tanker caught fire after a collision off China's coast leaving 32 crew members missing.

The oil tanker called the Sanchi tanker, carrying Iranian oil, which is run by the country’s top oil shipping operator was ablaze and spewing cargo into the East China Sea on Sunday.

The tanker collided with a Chinese bulk ship and the Chinese government said that 32 crew members remained missing.

Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation was quoted as saying on the Iranian television that thick clouds of dark smoke could be seen billowing out of the Sanchi tanker, engulfing the vessel as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather and fire on and around the ship.

On Saturday evening, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation said in a statement that the Sanchi collided with the CF Crystal, about 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai.

Reports noted that the Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, and was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra light crude. 

This, they said is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices.

The ministry said, “Sanchi is floating and burning as of now. There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts.”

According to State media CCTV, pictures of the tanker was ablaze and billowing plumes of thick dark smoke.

The incident sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site by 9 a.m. on Sunday.

The incident received help from South Korea, which sent a ship and helicopter to help. 

A Korean Coast Guard official confirmed the tanker was still raging at 1 p.m. but declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

According to the Chinese transport ministry, the tanker’s 32 crew members were all Iranian nationals except for two Bangladeshi nationals.

Rastad said, “There is a wide perimeter of flames around the vessel because of the spillage and search and rescue efforts are being carried out with difficulty. Unfortunately, up to this moment, there is no news of the crew.”

The China’s transport ministry said that CF Crystal’s 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued and the ship suffered “non-critical” damage.

The incident was the first major maritime incident involving an Iranian tanker since the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in January 2016.

 

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