32 sailors are missing after an oil tanker and a freight ship collided off the east coast of China.
The missing sailors - 30 Iranian and 2 Bangladeshi citizens - were crew members of the Iranian SANCHI tanker registered in Panama.
The tanker collided with a Hong Kongese freight ship 257 kilometres east of the mouth of the Yangtze River on Saturday (January 6), the Chinese Ministry of Transport said in a statement.
Crew members of the CF Crystal freight ship – all Chinese nationals – were rescued.
The collision led to a fire aboard the tanker and an unspecified amount of oil spilled into the sea. However, the contaminated area is unknown at this time.
China's People's Daily published a photo of the alleged tanker on fire. The ship was reportedly still ablaze at 9 a.m. local time.
The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons of oil from Iran to South Korea while the CF Crystal was transporting 64,000 tons of food from the United States to the Chinese city of Guangdong.
Chinese officials have sent 8 rescue vessels to search for the sailors. South Korea is also contributing to the operations with a coastguard ship and a fixed-wing aircraft said the ministry.