32 crew missing after fiery tanker collision off China's coast

South Korea has also sent a ship and helicopter to help, Reuters reported.

Thirty-two people are missing after an Iranian oil tanker collided with a Chinese vessel off Shanghai late on Saturday.

An Iranian oil tanker carrying gas condensate collided with a Chinese cargo ship and exploded in the eastern coasts of China, Kasra Nouri, spokesman for the Iranian oil ministry, said January 7. The Crystal's crew members were all Chinese nationals.

The tanker - carrying almost a million barrels of oil, worth about US$60m - had been sailing to Daesan in South Korea from Kharg Island in Iran, according to Reuters shipping data.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels off Alaska in 1989.

A photo of the accident scene broadcast on state television showed large amounts of black smoke billowing from the burning 274-metre-long oil tanker.

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The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the United Nations -run International Maritime Organization.

There were 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on the tanker, but all were missing as of Sunday, Chinese authorities said.

"We are working very closely with the relevant authorities to establish the facts surrounding the collision", it said in a statement. "We can not say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services".

Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co Ltd in South Korea was due to receive the cargo and was looking at ways to replace the lost barrels, a spokesman said.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total.

There was a collision involving an NITC-operated supertanker in the Singapore Strait in August 2016, but there was no loss of life or pollution.

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