Friday, 22 June, 2018

Crew of 32 missing after ships collide off eastern China

Oil tanker off Chinese coast at risk of exploding; search continues for missing crew Burning Tanker near Chinese Shore in Danger of Exploding
Nicole Thomas | 09 January, 2018, 11:12

An oil tanker that caught fire after colliding with a freighter off China's east coast is at risk of exploding and sinking, Chinese state media reported Monday, as authorities from three countries struggled to find its 32 missing crew members and contain oil spewing from the blazing wreck.

The collision, between a Panama-registered oil tanker and a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, occurred at around 8 p.m. Saturday in waters about 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze River's estuary, the ministry said. China, South Korea and the USA sent vessels and planes to search for Sanchi's crew - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, the Associated Press reported. CF Crystal's 21 Chinese crew members were rescued and the ship suffered "non-critical" damage, the ministry reports.

Chinese maritime authorities have dispatched eight vessels, including three specialized cleansing vessels, for search and rescue.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

Fears are growing that the spill will cause an environmental disaster in the East China Sea, while Chinese officials believe that the tanker will explode and sink.

It was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra light crude.

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Ten government vessels and "many fishing ships" were helping with the ongoing rescue and clean up effort, the transportation ministry said, adding that a South Korean coast guard ship was also on the scene. That's equivalent to just under 1 million barrels worth around $60 million based on current global crude oil prices.

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. It is owned by a Chinese shipping company and was traveling from the United States to Guangdong, China.

The body of one of the 32 crew members on board - 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis - has reportedly been found, while rescuers still search for the others.

A US Navy aircraft participated in the search on Sunday, scouring a large area before returning to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. 'We can not say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services'.

It's the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co.in less than a year and a half.

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