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China disputes Iranian claims over the Sanchi disaster

Chinese officials have refused to confirm that a Hong Kong-flagged bulker was to blame for the worst tanker accident this decade.

All 32 crew onboard NITC’s Sanchi crude tanker died following a collision with Chinese controlled CF Crystal on January 6 this year that sparked a massive explosion on the Iranian ship and its sinking eight days later with huge damage to the local environment in the East China Sea. The ship was carrying 136,000 tonnes of crude to South Korea when the accident happened. The bulker, which suffered a gash to its bow, was detained in Ningbo for investigations in January.

Over this past weekend, Nader Pasandeh, Iran’s deputy director general for seafarers’ affairs, told local media that the Chinese ship was at fault for the fatal collision.

“Human errors of the CF Crystal officers, putting it on a wrong path 15 minutes before the incident led to the collision,” Pasandeh said, adding: “If that mistake had not been made, the collision would not have happened.”

“The Chinese crew and officers had not noticed the Iranian tanker Sanchi until the collision,” the Iranian official continued.

However, Chinese officials contacted by Splash have refused to confirm which party was in the wrong.

“The investigations are still being carried out by the China Maritime Safety Administration, and the results will be released at an appropriate time,” said an official at the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration, without giving a time frame of the release of the investigation results.

Four brave Chinese rescuers boarded the Panama-flagged tanker while the fire was temporarily under control on January 10, days before it sank, finding the bodies of two crew in a lifeboat and also retrieving the vessel’s black box, which has since been opened and reviewed.

NITC’s parent company has estimated that the losses from the Sanchi’s sinking are about $110m – $60m for the cargo and $50m for the ship itself.


Jason Jiang

Jason is one of the most prolific writers on the diverse China shipping & logistics industry and his access to the major maritime players with business in China has proved an invaluable source of exclusives. Having been working at Asia Shipping Media since inception, Jason is the chief correspondent of Splash and associate editor of Maritime CEO magazine. Previously he had written for a host of titles including Supply Chain Asia, Cargo Facts and Air Cargo Week.
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