Tanker, freighter collide, leaving 22 missing near China

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Thirty-two people are missing after an oil tanker and a cargo ship collided off China's east coast on Saturday evening.

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 was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil.

A tanker has collided with a bulk carrier in the East China Sea, leaving 32, the entire tanker crew, missing. "Sanchi is floating and burning as of now", it said in a statement.

China's Xinhua news agency said eight Chinese ships were dispatched in a search-and-rescue operation. "There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts". A plane was also sent to assist the relief effort.

According to Reuters, Sanchi was built in 2008 and is operated by the state-backed National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) and was scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Sunday, 7 January. The tanker was carrying 136,000 tons (nearly one million barrels) of condensate and headed for South Korea.

The Chinese vessel, carrying grain from the United States, suffered minor damage "without jeopardising the safety of the ship".

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