Earthquakes and Fire Shut Down Turkish Port

Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Source: Sourcing Journal

The Port of Iskenderun in southern Turkey has temporarily ceased operations after two major earthquakes rocked the center of the country and northwest Syria on early Monday morning local time, resulting in more than 3,800 reported deaths and many more injuries.

Images captured by Turkish state media Anadolu Agency showed black smoke billowing from a fire that broke out among dozens of shipping containers that collapsed at the terminal after one of the earthquakes. Another media outlet, Belarus-based Nexta, shared some of Anadolu Agency’s footage in a tweet, showing videos of fire boats in the process of extinguishing the blaze.

Currently, maritime analytics and intelligence provider MarineTraffic says there are 28 vessels in the port, while there are 45 expected arrivals.

There is no known timetable for when the Turkish port, located in the Gulf of Alexandretta on the country’s Mediterranean coast, will begin operating again. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryolları (TCCD), the state-owned railway and infrastructure organization that operates the Iskenderun port, has not yet returned Sourcing Journal’s request for comment.

Other commercial ports in the area appear to have not been affected, according to a tweet from Denizcilik Genel Müdürlüğü, the General Directorate of Maritime Affairs at Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.

“In the damage assessment made to our coastal facilities after the earthquake, it was determined that docks collapsed at Iskenderun Port, and that there was no negative situation in our other ports,” according to a translation of the tweet.

On top of the concerns at Iskenderun, Turkey’s state energy company Botas has suspended natural gas flow to affected provinces, but has not detected any damage to oil pipelines in the region.

In a letter to customers, ocean freight giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said there has been “significant damage to logistics and transport infrastructure” around the Port of Iskenderun as well as the Turkish districts of Pazarcik and Kahramanmaras, areas of which were in the direct epicenter of the first 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

“The port has unfortunately been subject to severe structural damage, leading to a complete stop of all operations until further notice,” Maersk said. “Roads have also been heavily affected, and at this time vendors are not moving any trucks in and around the area.”

Given the situation at Iskenderun, Maersk said it needed to change the destination for all bookings bound for the port or already on the water. The freight giant said it is currently planning to divert containers to nearby hubs within operational feasibility or hold them at transshipment ports, including Turkey’s Port of Mersin and Egypt’s Port Said. Maersk said it will reach out to businesses directly if their cargo is impacted by the contingency measures put in place.

All booking cancellations, amendments and changes of destination will be free of charge for Iskenderun and Mersin bookings throughout the month of February, Maersk said.

“It is not yet clear when the Port of Iskenderun will see a return to normal operations, but we will keep you informed as soon as we know more and continue to update our relief packages in line with customer needs,” Maersk said.

One of Turkey’s leading apparel industry groups has set up a drive to help those impacted by the earthquakes. The Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association (IHKIB), which has a membership of nearly 21,000 exporters in Turkey and exported $21.2 billion worth of clothing out of the country in 2022, posted a message on its website and across social media, saying that it is now accepting donations of “all kinds of winter clothes, socks and underwear, winter shoes and boots, blankets, fleece, sleeping bags, baby diapers, electric stoves and dry food.”

In a call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday, President Biden said the U.S. is deploying resources to aid Turkey’s search and rescue activities and “coordinate other assistance that may be required by people affected by the earthquakes, including health services or basic relief items.”


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