Iran confirms its oil tanker incident, says 30 citizens missing

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

Chinese authorities have dispatched eight ships for the search and rescue operation, while South Korea have sent a plane and coastguard ship to help. CF Crystal's 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued and the ship suffered "non-critical" damage, China's transport ministry said.

The Iranian oil ministry's official website reported that the "Sanchi tanker", heading to South Korea and registered in Panama, collided with the CF Crystal some 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the collision.

A photo of the accident scene broadcast on state television showed large amounts of black smoke billowing from the burning 274-metre-long oil tanker.

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

The incident also marked the first major maritime incident involving an Iranian tanker since the lifting of worldwide sanctions against Iran in January 2016.

Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co Ltd in South Korea was due to receive the cargo and was looking at ways to replace the lost barrels, a spokesman said. Norwegian ship insurer Skuld has confirmed it was the lead hull insurer for the tanker and the protection and indemnity (P&I) insurer for CF Crystal.

The Chinese ministry said the second ship in the collision was a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship carrying 64,000 tons of grain.

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

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