32 missing after tanker collision off China's coast

A tanker has collided with a bulk carrier in the East China Sea, leaving 32, the entire tanker crew, missing.

It was not known if any of the tanker's missing 32 crew members had been rescued, said the coast guard official, who declined to give his name as he was not authorised to speak to media.

The accident happened about 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

The Iranian tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of gas condensate, worth about $60 million based on current crude oil prices.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels off Alaska in 1989.

Chinese officials dispatched several maritime police vessels, two rescue boats, and three professional cleaning ships to the area.

Oil tanker SANCHI, owned by an Iranian shipping company, collided with a cargo ship. It said South Korea also sent a search plane and a coastguard ship.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the collision.

That was nearly twice the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, which ravaged Alaska's coast in 1989. The Foreign Ministry said in a separate statement that the cause of the incident was under investigation.

It was due to arrive at Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran on Sunday, according to Reuters ship tracking.

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

"We have no information on their fate", he said. The 225-meter-long second vessel CF CRYSTAL, carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain, was partly damaged in the collision.

CF Crystal, which was built in 2011, was due to arrive in China on January 10, according to Reuters ship tracking data.

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