Tanker collision in East China leaves eight dead, six missing

The Yangtze River. Credit: Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images

An oil tanker collided with a cargo ship in the Yangste River, near Shanghai Port, East China, on 20 August, leaving eight crew members dead and a further six missing.

According to the Shanghai Maritime Authority, shortly after the collision the cargo ship sank and the deck of the tanker, carrying an estimated 3,000 tonnes of gasoline, caught fire.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the site of the incident, 1.5 nm east of the Yangste River estuary, to contain the fire. Rescuers discovered the bodies of eight seafarers onboard the tanker on 22 August, once the fire had subsided.

A search and rescue operation, consisting of 15 vessels and two planes, is still ongoing to find the remaining missing six seafarers.

The Shanghai Maritime Authority has yet to release the names of the vessels involved in the incident. There was no reported incident of pollution and an investigation into the cause of the collision is underway.

Restricted and congested waterways account for the second most common place for seafarer deaths, according to data from IHS Markits’ inaugural State of Maritime Safety report released in April 2020. Between 2015-2019, 22% of all seafarer deaths occurred in these waterways, compared with 59% that occur in the open sea.

The free report showed that collisions were also the second most common casualty incident type globally (any incident relating to a vessel where it needs to be repaired and then re-enters service); collisions accounted for 21% of all casualty incidents between 2015-2019, compared with hull and machinery damage at 32%.