Ships collide off China coast, 32 missing

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An Iranian oil tanker carrying gas condensate collided with a Chinese cargo ship and exploded in the eastern coasts of China, Kasra Nouri, spokesman for the Iranian oil ministry, said January 7. It said South Korea also sent a search plane and a coastguard ship.

CF Crystal's 21 Chinese crew members were rescued and the ship suffered "non-critical" damage, the ministry reports.

The accident happened about 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

The Chinese ministry said the second ship in the collision was a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship carrying 64,000 tons of grain. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals. "There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts".

The 274-meter-long tanker was still ablaze on Sunday and images on Chinese television showed huge clouds of smoke rising from the stricken vessel.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil.

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The tanker's 32 crew members including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshi sailors were missing in the incident.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or almost 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about $60 million, based on global crude oil prices.

The impact sparked a ferocious blaze and caused the tanker to spew cargo into the East China Sea, Chinese officials said.

This is the first major accident involving an Iranian oil tanker since worldwide sanctions were lifted in January 2016.

The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, an ultra-light crude.

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