Rescue operation underway for missing Iranian sailors in East China Sea: Official

Tasnim – An international search and rescue operation has been launched in the hope of finding 32 sailors who went missing in the East China Sea after an Iranian tanker and a Chinese bulk ship collided there, the managing director of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said.

The NITC has set up a special emergency committee in Tehran to help in the ongoing international search and rescue mission aimed at finding the missing crew members, 30 of whom were Iranian and the other two were from Bangladesh, Sirous Kian-Ersi said on Sunday.

Following the collision on Sunday morning, Chinese maritime officials launched a search and rescue operation involving eight vessels, with support from South Korea, which has provided a coastguard ship and fixed-wing aircraft.

Kian-Ersi added that two Iranian tankers have so far joined the mission.

In the meantime, CEO of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran Mohammad Rastad referred to the reasons behind the incident, saying, “Collisions at sea usually occur in busy shipping routes partly due to miscalculations.”

National Iranian Tanker’s Sanchi spewed its £44million cargo into the East China Sea after it collided with the CF Crystal about 160 nautical miles off the coast of Shanghai on Saturday.

Thick plumes of thick dark smoke could still be seen billowing into the sky above the towering inferno.

The tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra light crude oil, which is the equivalent to just fewer than one million barrels.

The CF Crystal had been damaged but “without jeopardizing the safety of the ship” and all of its 21 Chinese crew had been rescued, according to China’s transport ministry.

The freighter was carrying 64,000 tons of grain from the United States to China’s southern province of Guangdong when it crashed, the ministry said.