Crude oil tanker SANCHI collided with bulk carrier CF CRYSTAL at around 1800 Beijing time Jan 6 east of Yangtze river estuary in East China sea, according to Chinese sources.
More than 30 crew members of an Iranian oil tanker are missing after the vessel collided with a Chinese freight ship in the East China Sea last night, resulting in it being set on fire and spilling its contents into the ocean.
According to China’s Ministry of Transport the tanker, named Sanchi, hit the Chinese ship, CF Crystal, at around 8pm last night. The incident happened around 160 nautical miles east of the Yangtze River Delta.
Some 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis who were working on the oil tanker are missing. All 21 members of the Chinese freighter’s crew, all of who are Chinese nationals, have been rescued.
At 9am local time this morning the Ministry said it was searching for survivors as the Iranian vessel continued to blaze. “Sanchi is floating and burning as of now,” it said in a statement. “There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts.”
An Iranian Oil Ministry official, speaking to Associated Press under condition of anonymity, said: “We have no information on their fate. We cannot say all of them are died [sic], because rescue teams are there and providing services.”
The Ministry did not say how big the oil slick was. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tonnes of ultra light crude oil, equivalent to just under one million barrels and with a value of around £44 million.
Eight Chinese vessels have been sent to the area for the search and rescue operation, with three of them set to take part in a clean-up operation. South Korea is sending a coastguard ship and a helicopter to help.
The oil tanker was owned by the Iranian company National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) and rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. Before last night’s accident it had been scheduled to arrive in Daesan, in northwest South Korea, this evening, having departed from Iran’s Kharg Island.
The Chinese vessel was reportedly damaged in the collision, but it is unclear how seriously. It had been carrying grain from the US to China’s southeast Guangdong province and had been due to arrive next Wednesday, according to Reuters.
It was registered as being owned by the Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd company and was managed by the NITC. According to the United Nations-run International Maritime Organisation, it was built in 2008 and has had five different names since then.
The collision is the second of its kind in two years that has involved vessels operated by NITC. One of the company’s supertankers collided with a container ship in the Singapore Straight in 2016, with no casualties or pollution caused by the accident.