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Sanchi sinks following another explosion, NITC says crew of 32 all dead

NITC tanker Sanchi, which has been burning in the East China Sea for over a week, sank on Sunday after another major explosion onboard the vessel.

According to China’s Ministry of Transport, the tanker suffered a major explosion around noon on Sunday and sank about 4:45pm local time.

Sanchi collided with Chinese bulker CF Crystal on January 6, triggering a huge fire on the tanker. An initial explosion occurred on January 10, forcing the suspension of firefighting operations for a day.

Iranian authorities have since declared that all of the 32 crew members from the vessel are dead.

On Saturday, four Chinese rescuers boarded the tanker while the fire was temporarily under control finding the bodies of two crew in a lifeboat and also retrieving the vessel’s black box.

The rescuers made attempts to go into the accommodation block, but failed to do so due to the high temperature and toxic smoke.

The tanker had drifted around 151 miles from the accident site into Japan’s exclusive economic zone when it sank.

The fire is still burning on the water at the wreckage site and Chinese authorities are still investigating the cause of the collision incident, although no details have been revealed so far.


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.


  1. Good effort to retrieve the VDR. Hope it is readable, and we must look forward to the Chinese Maritime Safety Agency’s report.

    Collisions of this type, involving a tanker, in which a flash fire engulfs the accommodation of one ship or the other, are always the worst. We all know the list of the names of the ships that have suffered this fate, and there seems to be no way to stop them from happening.

  2. Well said Andrew C-B! My humble admiration to the brave fire-fighting team, who were helo’ed onto the inferno. Let us all say a prayer for those who were lost, and re-read the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea.

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