0748 GMT January 23, 2018
The ministry said 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis on the tanker Sanchi are unaccounted for following the collision late Saturday with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal, AP reported.
The ministry said the tanker was "completely lost to fire."
The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China's Ministry of Transport said.
According to IRNA, Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday that Tehran was closely following the case of the Iranian crew members.
“The Iranian Embassy in Beijing is in close contact with the Chinese officials to get complete information about dimensions of the incident,” Hassan Qashqavi Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Expatriates Affairs said.
According to Qashqavi, the Iranian tanker was carrying petroleum derivatives and petrochemical materials.
All 21 members of the Crystal's crew — all Chinese nationals — have been rescued.
Chinese authorities are carrying out a search and rescue effort for the missing tanker crew.
Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members.
“The news that all Iranians have been killed after collision is not true,” a source told IRNA.
Iran's Consul General in Shanghai Alireza Irvash told IRNA on Sunday morning that a crisis committee has been formed in China's Shanghai to rescue the missing Iranians.
About the news why all the rescued are the Chinese nationals but those who have been killed or gone missing were Iranian and Bangladeshi, Irvash said the crew members of the Chinese ship had thrown themselves out of the vessel and been rescued by the ships around the scene.
Irvash hoped the rescue operation which has started since early Sunday would be fruitful.
Director of Iran's Petroleum Ministry Kasra Nouri has already said the tanker was carrying condensate which belonged to National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).
Iranian tanker and its cargo, sailing to South Korea, were both insured by a reputable foreign insurance company, Nouri said.
The Iranian tanker, he added, was leased by South Korea's Hanwha TOTAL Co.
Meanwhile, IRNA later on Sunday cited an Iranian official as confirming that the tanker was Iranian but was leased by a Korean firm.
Kasra Nouri, the director of the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum, was cited by IRNA as saying that the vessel was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Company and had had its cargo loaded on behalf of the Korean firm, the Hanwha Total Petrochemical.
Nouri said most of the crew on board the tanker were Iranian but added that the Ministry of Petroleum had the details.
IRNA said that all crew members on board the tanker were said to have been killed in the incident, without providing a source.