Thirty-two crew members－30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis－were missing after two vessels collided off China’s east coast Saturday evening, the Ministry of Transport said on Sunday.
The incident happened about 8 pm Saturday, when the Panama-registered oil tanker Sanchi and the Hong Kong cargo ship CF Crystal collided 160 nautical miles east of the Yangtze River estuary.
The oil tanker caught fire after the collision and the 32 crew members onboard were missing, while the 21 crew members on the cargo ship were rescued, as the damage to that ship did not compromise safety, the statement said.
By 9 am Sunday, a maritime law enforcement vessel and two special rescue vessels arrived at the site to conduct search and rescue operations.
The South Korean Coast Guard also sent a vessel and rescue helicopter to the spot.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Chinese government has paid great attention to the incident.
On their way to the site to help with the rescue and investigation were fire experts, the China Coast Guard, three specialized cleanup vessels and a high-powered tug, the Ministry of Transport said.
The floating oil tanker was still burning on Sunday with oil spilling into the sea, the statement said.
The 274-meter-long oil tanker, the property of Bright Shipping of Iran, was heading from Iran to South Korea to deliver 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra light crude.
The Hong Kong cargo ship, 225 meters long, belongs to Wenlin Changfeng Shipping from Zhejiang province.
The ship, carrying 64,000 tons of food, was bound for Guangdong province from the United States.