Iranian Oil Tanker Engulfed In Flames Following Collision

Crew of 32 missing after ships collide off eastern China

Rescuers attempting to reach the crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis were being beaten back by toxic clouds, China's Transportation Ministry said.

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 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.

The ministry said oil spilled into the sea, but did not specify the area of contamination.

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.

According to the South Korean Coast Guard, much of the condensate may have evaporated or burned immediately, but the Sanchi's own fuel - which will be heavier - will be more hard to deal with.

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The 274-meter-long oil tanker SANCHI, owned by an Iranian shipping company and with 136,000 tonnes of condensate oil on board, was traveling from Iran to the Republic of Korea (ROK).

A Hanwha Total spokesman, who asked not to be named citing office policies, said there is "little possibility" that condensate would leave traces in the ocean after it burned.

The tanker has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations -run International Maritime Organization. One body has been recovered, Iran's Ports and Maritime Organization said Monday.

The tanker, Panama-registered Sanchi, also spilled some oil that the rescue teams from China and South Korea are now dealing with. It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil as of Monday and the size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known. 'We can not say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services'.

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