32 missing in oil tanker and freighter collision off Shanghai

  Jan.9--AN Iranian oil tanker, the Panama-registered Sanchi, that collided with a Hong Kong-registered freighter in the East China Sea last Saturday evening was still ablaze yesterday morning, as emergency rescue teams continued to search for the missing crew, according to Reuters citing a South Korean coast guard official.

  The US Navy sent a military aircraft to assist with the search covering an of about 3,600 square nautical miles, but said in a statement it did not locate any of the tanker's 32 missing crew members.

  The Sanchi tanker run by Iran's top oil shipping operator, collided with the Hong Kong-registered CF Crystal about 160 nautical miles off China's coast near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation said in a statement.

  The tanker's 32 crew members are all Iranian nationals except for two Bangladeshi nationals, the Chinese transport ministry said.

  China sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site, while South Korea dispatched a ship and a helicopter.

  The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra light crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about US$60 million, based on global crude oil prices.

  The freight ship, which was carrying US grain, suffered limited damage and the 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued.

  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, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian television.

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

  Trying to contain a spill of condensate, which is extremely low in density, highly toxic and much more explosive than normal crude, may also be difficult.

  Shanghai Maritime Bureau's navigation department said the collision did not affect impact traffic in and out of Shanghai, one of the world's busiest and biggest ports, or ports along the Yangtze river.


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