The 'Sanchi' tanker, operated by Iran's top oil shipping firm, was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tonnes of condensate, when it collided with the 'CF Crystal', about 160 nautical miles off the coast near Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta on Saturday evening, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Transportation as quoted by Reuters.
Images from local TV channels illustrated the ship surrounded by thick clouds of dark smoke in the grip of an intense blaze.
As for the other vessel, the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal, it sustained some damage, but all of its 21 Chinese crewmen were rescued.
There has been an oil slick as a result from the accident, Chinese officials informed, but the extend of the environmental damage is yet to be determined.
Chinese authorities deployed eight ships and South Korea dispatched a plane and a coast guard ship for search and rescue, the Xinhua news agency reported.
MT @US7thFleet: The @USNavy sent a P-8A aircraft attached to the ‘Fighting Tigers’ of Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8) to assist in an international search and rescue (SAR) effort in the East China Sea following a collision between two commercial vessels. https://t.co/mAOurEqdfA pic.twitter.com/xqwFHzfcCF
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) January 8, 2018
Later on the same day, the US Navy sent a P-8A aircraft attached to the 'Fighting Tigers' of Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8) to assist in the SAR effort , searching an area of approximately 3,600 square nautical miles before returning to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. However, none of the mariners were located.
The 'Sanchi' was carrying a total of 32 crew members, thirty of which are Iranian and two Bangladeshi nationals.
Rescue crews have found the body of one of the 32 missing crew members on aboard.
In an official statement for the accident, IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim expressed his condolences and said that IMO stands ready to offer any technical assistance that may be needed.
“This is an ongoing situation which we are monitoring. IMO stands ready to offer any technical assistance that may be needed. In the longer term, it is expected that there will be a full investigation into this incident and that the results and findings will be brought to IMO so that we can do whatever may be necessary to reduce the chances of such an incident happening again."