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VIDEO: U.S. Navy P-8A Looking for Crew of Burning Iranian Tanker

MT Sanchi burning off the coast of China after a Jan. 6 collision. South Korean Coast Guard Photo

The U.S. Navy sent a P-8A aircraft to assist the international search and rescue effort in the East China Sea following a Saturday collision between two commercial vessels.

The Chinese-flagged cargo ship CF Crystal collided with an Iranian-flagged tanker MV Sanchi early in the morning Saturday. The collision occurred about 6 p.m. local time, according to news reports. Crystal, carrying grain to China, reportedly suffered minor damage. Sanchi, transporting about a million barrels of light crude oil to South Korea from Iran, was engulfed in flames and 32 crew members were reported missing, according to a Navy statement.

The Navy P-8A sent to assist the search and rescue is attached to the ‘Fighting Tigers’ of Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8), at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The aircraft seared an area of about 3,600 nautical miles before returning to base, according to a Navy statement.

As of Monday, the Navy had not received any additional requests for help from the Chinese government, which is leading the search and rescue efforts, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News.