An Iranian oil tanker run by the country’s top oil shipping firm caught fire and began spewing cargo into the East China Sea on Sunday after it collided with a Chinese freight ship, Reuters reported.

Thirty-two crew members of the tanker are still missing, while the body of one them was found aboard. Among the missing crew members, 30 were Iranians and two were Bangladeshis, Sky News reported.

The 274-metre tanker Sanchi is “in danger of exploding or sinking”, the Iranian ministry said, according to AFP.

The 21 crew members on the Chinese bulk freighter were rescued.

The accident took place around 8 pm on Saturday about 160 nautical miles east of the Yangtze River’s estuary, the Transport Ministry said.


Chinese maritime authorities dispatched eight vessels, including three specialised cleaning vessels, for search and rescue operations after the accident. South Korea, too, sent a coast guard ship and a fixed-wing aircraft to help, Xinhua reported.

Bad weather hampered their rescue efforts and fed the fire on and around the ship, Mohammad Rastad, the head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organisation, told Iranian media.