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32 Missing as Two Vessels Collide off East China Coast

Thirty-two crew members, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, have gone missing after two vessels collided off China's east coast on the evening of January 6, China's Ministry of Transport said on January 7.

The collision, between a Panama-registered oil tanker and a Hong Kong-registered bulk freighter, occurred at around 8 p.m. on January 6 in waters about 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze River's estuary, the ministry said.

The 32 missing crew members were all from the oil tanker, which caught fire and tilted toward the right side after the collision.

All 21 crew members on the bulk freighter -- all Chinese nationals -- have been rescued, according to the ministry.

The 274-meter-long oil tanker SANCHI, owned by an Iranian shipping company and with 136,000 tons of condensate oil on board, was traveling from Iran to the Republic of Korea (ROK), according to the ministry.

The ministry said that as of 9 a.m. Sunday, SANCHI was still floating and burning, and the oil on board spilled into the sea, without specifying the area of contamination.

The 225-meter bulk freighter CF CRYSTAL carried 64,000 tons of grain and was partly damaged. It is owned by a Chinese shipping company and was traveling from the United States to Guangdong, China.

Chinese maritime authorities have dispatched eight vessels, including three specialized cleansing vessels, for search and rescue. After coordination by the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center, the ROK dispatched a coast guard ship and a fixed-wing aircraft to assist in the search and rescue.

"The Chinese Government attaches great importance to the accident," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Sunday, adding that the cause of the accident is still under investigation.

(Xinhua News Agency January 7, 2018)

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