China’s transport ministry said rescue workers recovered one unidentified body near the wreckage of an Iranian oil tanker Monday, two days after it collided with a Chinese cargo ship off China's east coast and caught fire.
The tanker's crew of 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis has been missing since the collision late Saturday.
China’s official Xinhua news agency quoted the transport ministry as saying the body found near the wreckage is believed to be one of the missing 32 crew members.
"Later, identity check and body transfer will be carried out according to procedures," the ministry said.
A foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said the conditions Monday were not favorable for search and rescue work. Xinhua reported that 13 rescue vessels were searching an area of 900 square nautical miles, amid rain and strong wind.
China's English-language state broadcaster CGTN posted a video on Twitter Monday afternoon showing the fire from the oil tanker seemingly under control as a second vessel sprayed the tanker with water.
Chinese officials had said earlier Monday that the oil tanker was at risk of exploding and sinking amid warnings of a potential environmental disaster.
The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it slammed into the Hong Kong-registered CF Crystal about 257 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.
The Crystal’s 21 crew members — all Chinese nationals — were rescued after the coalition. That ship was carrying grain from the United States to China.
The collision caused the tanker — carrying 136,000 metric tons of oil — to burst into flames.
Lu said the Chinese government has sent ships to clear the oil pollution in the sea. The size of the oil spill has not been determined.
China, South Korea and the U.S. Navy have deployed ships and aircraft to assist with the search for the missing crewmen.
It was not immediately clear what caused the collision.
Saturday's is the second collision for a ship owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year-and-a-half.
In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.