August 20, 2015 | Industry Insights

Roanoke Trade Prepared to Assist Clients with Cargo Claims from Tianjin Explosions

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The world’s third-largest port in terms of total cargo volume in Tianjin, China was hit on Aug. 12 by explosions at a hazardous-chemicals warehouse that damaged a large industrial area and sent shock waves across several kilometers. So far reports indicate that 114 people were killed. Initial estimates from Chinese media reports also indicate that total insurance losses could be between $1 billion to $1.5 billion. The site was completely inaccessible two days after the incident, with police cars and fire trucks thronging the area.

Tianjin is major base for petrochemicals, refining and other industries. The auto industry is expected to be hit hardest by the explosions, given the concentration of plants and logistics facilities in Tianjin. In fact, as of Monday, August 17th, global automakers had confirmed 4,950 cars were damaged in the blast, with most saying the vehicles were insured but declining to provide additional details. “Transport insurers are looking at the damage to containers, warehouses and new cars but also to the port’s infrastructure of trains, cranes and rail tracks,” Dieter Berg, a marine expert at the world’s largest reinsurer, Munich Re, told Reuters. Roanoke Trade is a subsidiary of Munich Re Group.

Roanoke Trade’s Cargo Claims Administration is receiving ongoing alerts of the situation in Tianjin and is set to assist clients with the claims process as a result of losses from the explosions. City officials in Tianjin, China have ordered the port to stop handling tankers and container vessels carrying hazardous substances. Container ships with hazardous goods on board are currently unable to berth and discharge cargo, and most tanker operations in the port have ceased. There are also genuine concerns regarding the hazardous chemicals, including 700 tons of sodium cyanide stored in the warehouses that exploded (a teaspoonful alone can be lethal if inhaled). Chinese and other media outlets have reported that the toxic chemicals that caused the explosions were released into the air and seeped into the groundwater.

The predicted rain is also a real concern. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing, for instance, is warning its staff even in Beijing to avoid the rain when it comes and, if exposed to it, to wash themselves and any clothing as soon as possible. The concern, therefore, is that even if cargoes (including cars) were not affected by the shockwaves, they could well soon be exposed to a potentially lethal chemical cocktail that could render the unaffected cargoes also a total loss.

If you have any questions regarding your specific situation, please contact Roanoke Claims Services at 800-762-6653. Roanoke Trade specializes in serving the insurance needs of transportation and logistics providers and is committed to helping our clients during this crisis.

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