Thirty-two crew members -- 30 Iranians and two Bengalese -- have gone missing after two vessels collided off China"s east coast Saturday evening, China"s Ministry of Transport said on Sunday.
The accident happened at about 8 pm Saturday, when the Panama-registered oil tanker SANCHI?and the Hong Kong cargo ship CF CRYSTAL collided 160 sea miles east of the Yangtze Estuary.
The oil tanker caught on fire after the collision and the 32 crew members onboard went missing, while 21 crew members on the cargo ship were rescued, as the damage to the ship did not compromise safety, the statement said.
By 9 am Sunday, a maritime law enforcement vessel and two special rescue vessels arrived at the site to conduct search and rescue operations.
The South Korean coast guard also sent a vessel and rescue helicopter to the spot.
Fire experts, the Chinese coast guard, three specialized cleaning vessels and a high-power tug were on their way to the accident site to assist with rescue and investigation work.
The floating oil tanker is still burning with oil spilling into the sea, the statement said.
The 274-meter-long oil tanker, which belongs to Bright Shipping of Iran, was heading from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of gas condensate with 32 crew members.
The Hong Kong cargo ship, 225 meters in length, belongs to Wenlin Changfeng Shipping from Zhejiang province. Carrying 64,000 tons of food, the ship was bound for Guangdong province from the United States with 21 Chinese crew members onboard.