A chemical tanker and cargo ship collided in the English Channel early Tuesday, setting off a pre-dawn rescue of 22 sailors by helicopter and lifeboat.

The tanker, which was carrying phosphoric acid, collided with a cargo ship at about 2:20 a.m. about 30 miles northwest of the Channel island of Guernsey, Britain's Maritime and Coast Guard Agency said.

French officials said all the rescued sailors were from the chemical tanker Ece, which was taking in water and listing in rough seas.

British Coast Guard spokesman Fred Caygill said 12 were rescued by coast guard helicopter and 10 by a lifeboat from Guernsey. All were believed to be receiving treatment for minor injuries, he said.

Caygill said the tanker was carrying 11,000 tons of phosphoric acid but stressed there was no risk of pollution. The corrosive liquid dissolved in the sea, Caygill said.

French officials said the cargo ship had a crew of 21 and was carrying a load of phosphate. The cargo ship was registered in Malta and the tanker in the Marshall Islands.