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One year on, families of the Sanchi crew await answers

This past weekend marked the first anniversary since the Sanchi disaster, one of the worst tanker accidents of the decade, with families of the bereaved in Iran still asking questions as to how the deadly inferno happened.

All 32 crew – a mix of Iranians and Bangladeshis – died in the wake of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) suezmax colliding with the Chinese bulker CF Crystal on January 6 last year in the East China Sea.

The stricken Panamanian-flagged tanker burned for more than a week, drifting in between Chinese and Japanese waters, before exploding and sinking.

Chinese rescuers were able to board the ship the day before it sank and retrieved its vessel data recorder.

The ship was carrying 136,000 tons of light condensate oil, due for delivery in South Korea, when the accident occurred. The ensuing slick washed up at shores across East Asia.

Iranian officials were quick to blame the Chinese bulker for the collision, but China’s Maritime Safety Administration did not concur.

Interviews carried in Iranian media over the weekend show many the families affected by the demise of the Sanchi are still searching for answers into how the accident happened.

Officials at the Panamanian registry told Splash today that an internal report has been completed into the Sanchi disaster, but it has yet to be made public.

As it stands compensation has been paid to 11 bereaved families in Iran with another four set to receive payment this month. NITC has also offered jobs to close relatives of the victims and committed to pay the pensions in full of all the dead seafarers.

Over the weekend, Tehran city council discussed an NITC proposal to name one of the capital’s streets after the victims of the Sanchi.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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