Burning oil tanker off China's coast in danger of exploding

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Thirty-two crew members, including 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, have gone missing after two vessels collided off China's east coast on Saturday evening, China's Ministry of Transport said Sunday.

The ministry says 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on the tanker Sanchi are unaccounted for following the collision late Saturday with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal.

The ship spilled some of its cargo of 136,000 tons of oil condensate and was floating while still on fire early on January 7.

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The burning oil was making it hard to get close to the tanker and search for missing crew members, the Iranian authorities said.

The Chinese vessel had been damaged but "the safety of the ship was not jeopardized" and all its 21 Chinese crew had been rescued, officials from the Ministry of Transport said. The US Navy, which sent a P-8A aircraft from Okinawa, Japan, to aid the search, said late on Sunday that none of the missing crew had been found.

Chinese authorities dispatched three ships to clean the oil spill. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

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The size of the oil spill has not been determined, nor has the cause of the collision. Speed is of the essence, as condensate is potentially much more unsafe than regular crude oil as it is much less dense and extremely toxic as well as very flammable. The tanker, operated by Iran's Glory Shipping, was heading to South Korea when it collided with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, the CF Crystal, carrying 64,000 tonnes of grain. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

Saturday's is the second collision for a ship owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co.in less than a year and a half. "We can not say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services".

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