Thirty-two crew are reported to be missing from an Iranian Suezmax tanker which collided with a Chinese bulk carrier in the East China Sea on Saturday night. The 160,000 DWT tanker, Sanchi, collided with the bulk carrier CF Crystal, which was loaded with 64,000 tonnes of grain, about 160 nautical miles (296 km) off the coast of Shanghai. The Sanchi is afloat and on fire and leaking oil. 30 Iranian and two Bangladeshis crew from Sanchi are missing. The 21 crew aboard the CF Crystal have all been rescued.
Eight Chinese ships have been sent for the search-and-rescue operation, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency. South Korea has also sent a coastguard ship and a helicopter to aid the relief effort. Poor weather and huge plumes of smoke rising from the tanker are making rescue attempts difficult, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian television.
The Panamanian registrySanchi is owned by the Iranian National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) and chartered to Hanwha Total Co. of South Korea. It was loaded with a cargo of 130,000 tonnes of oil and was bound from Iran’s Kharg Island for Daesan, in northwest South Korea when it collided with the Chinese bulk carrier.
The bulk carrier CF Crystal, registered in Hong Kong, was damaged in the collision, but it is unclear how seriously. According to Reuters, it was carrying grain from the US to China’s southeast Guangdong province.
Thanks to Alaric Bond for contributing to this post.