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32 Missing, Tanker Ablaze After Collision off China

FILE - An Iranian Revolutionary Guard speedboat passes near an oil tanker, July 2, 2012. A collision late Saturday off the eastern coast of China left 30 Iranians missing.

An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s eastern coast, leaving its entire crew of 32 missing, most of them Iranians, authorities said Sunday.

The missing, 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, are all from the tanker Sanchi, which spilled oil and was floating while still burning early Sunday, said Chinese maritime authorities, which dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene.

South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and an airplane to aid the search effort.

The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal 257 kilometers (160 miles) from shore late Saturday, the Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 members of the Crystal’s crew, all Chinese nationals, were rescued, the ministry said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.