Stricken Oil Tanker at Risk of Exploding Off China Coast

 08 Jan 2018 10.28am

A Panama-registered oil tanker that collided with a freighter 257 kilometers off China's east coast is now at risk of exploding and sinking.

Exclusive footage (above) obtained by CGTN of China Central Television shows the oil tanker on fire after colliding with the Hong Kong cargo ship on Saturday (January 6, 2017).

China's Ministry of Transport reported that the vessel, the Sanchi, was sailing from Iran to South Korea with nearly 1 million barrels of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, when it collided with the freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea.

South Korea, China and the US are using vessels and planes to search the area for 32 missing crew members belonging to the Sanchi.

The Chinese ministry has confirmed that it has rescued all 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the US to China.

As of today (January 8, 2018), Chinese state media company CCTV has reported that search and cleanup efforts have been hampered by fierce fires and poisonous gases that are engulfing the tanker and surrounding waters.

The environmental impact may be smaller than previous oils spills due to the way the light, gassy condensate evaporates and burns immediately when alight.

However, the vessel fuel that leaked during the collision will be more difficult for authorities to manage.

The tanker has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according to the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization (IMO), which has listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping.

An official in Iran's Oil Ministry, who spoke anonymously to the New York Times, said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker and confirmed that 30 of the tanker's 32 crew members were Iranians.

He said: "We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.

"We have no information on their fate."

In an announcement, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the seafarers still missing from the oil tanker Sanchi, following a reported collision off the coast of China. I send my deepest condolences to all their families and loved ones.

“I would like to commend all those who have been involved in the international search and rescue operations so far and in the efforts to battle the fire and contain pollution from the ship.

“This is an ongoing situation which we are monitoring. IMO stands ready to offer any technical assistance that may be needed. In the longer term, it is expected that there will be a full investigation into this incident and that the results and findings will be brought to IMO so that we can do whatever may be necessary to reduce the chances of such an incident happening again."

Read more: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is investigating a deadly collision between a tanker and a dredger

  Carriers, Environment , Global Economy/Trade, Oil, Gas and Chemical Handling, Politics, Ports, Shipping