Mon, Jan 08, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Crew missing after tanker collides with cargo ship


Tanker Sanchi burns after colliding with a Chinese cargo ship in the East China Sea yesterday.

Photo: AFP / Korea Coast Guard

An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s eastern coast, leaving its entire crew of 32 missing and causing the tanker to spill oil into the sea, authorities said yesterday.

The missing — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis — are all from the tanker Sanchi, which was floating while still burning early yesterday, said Chinese maritime authorities, who dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene.

The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and an airplane to help the search effort.

The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea late on Saturday, when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257km off the coast of Shanghai, the Chinese Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the US, were rescued, the ministry said.

The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.

The size of the oil slick caused by the accident was also not immediately known. It was not clear as of yesterday afternoon whether the tanker was still spilling oil.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, Chinese authorities said.

It has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the UN-run International Maritime Organization, which listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd on behalf of National Iranian Tanker Co, a publicly traded company based in Tehran.

National Iranian Tanker describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

“We have no information on their [the crew’s] fate,” said an official at the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total SA.

Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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