Burning Iranian Oil Tanker Off China's Coast In Danger Of Exploding, Sinking

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Yesterday, we reported that in a bizarre and still unexplained incident, no less than 32 sailors were missing after an Iranian oil tanker sailing to South Korea collided with a cargo ship off the east coast of China and caught fire on Saturday evening. The Sanchi collided with the Chinese cargo vessel CF Crystal about 160 nautical miles off the coast of Shanghai on Saturday, with China’s Ministry of Transport reporting that search and rescue operations were under way, and that oil had spilled on the water.

“The accident caused oil tanker ‘SANCHI’ to catch on fire, tilting to the right, losing contact with the crew,” China’s ministry of transportation said, noting that as of Sunday morning “‘SANCHI’ is floating and still on fire. There are fuel stains on the sea, the rescue is going on.”

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The Sanchi burning

One day later, according to the latest update, the 32 crew members of the vessel are still missing, however where things have taken a turn for the worse is that according to Chinese state media, the flaming ship is now in danger of either exploding or sinking.

China, South Korea and the U.S. sent vessels and planes to search for Sanchi’s missing crew, 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, the Associated Press reported.

Sanchi was ferrying 1 million barrels of condensate – a hydrocarbon liquid that’s used to make petrochemicals – to Daesan, according to a Hanwha Total spokesman. The firm plans to use its stockpiles as a replacement for the supply.

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The tanker Sanchi in better days

Bloomberg also reports  that Hanwha also issued a tender and on Monday bought five 25,000-metric-ton cargoes of naphtha – another feedstock involved in petrochemical production – for delivery next month, paying a premium of about $10 a ton over benchmark prices for four of the shipments.

Hanwha plans to claim compensation for the cargo’s loss under its own insurance program, while the damages caused by the collision will probably be covered under NITC’s policy, according to the South Korean company’s spokesman.

As reported yesterday, the Panama-flagged Sanchi is owned by state-run National Iranian Tanker Co. and departed Assaluyeh port on Dec. 16 for the South Korean port of Daesan. All aboard the CF Crystal, a Hong Kong-registered cargo vessel that was carrying grain from the U.S. to China, were rescued, according to China’s Ministry of Transport, which said oil was on the water.

There is still no explanation what caused the crash.