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Lethal earthquake paralyses Turkish ports, container lines announce operation adjustments

LimakPort Iskenderun, located in the Mediterranean coastal town of Iskenderun in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, was severely damaged by the recent earthquake, forcing the port authority to suspend the port's operations.

Therefore, global container carriers are taking measures to deal with the operational difficulties in the region. Maersk and COSO have already published customer advisories to inform about the impact on their operations and services.

Given the situation at Iskenderun, Maersk said it will need to perform a change of destination for all bookings bound for the Turkish port or already on the water.

"All booking cancellations, amendments and changes of destination will be free of charge for Iskenderun and Mersin bookings throughout the month of February," noted the Danish box carrier.

The company is currently planning to divert containers to nearby hubs within operational feasibility or hold them at transshipment ports, including the port of Mersin in Turkey and Port Said in Egypt.

Maersk added that it is not yet clear when the port of Iskenderun will return to normal operations, while the company also noted that roads have also been heavily affected, and at this time vendors are not moving any trucks in and around the area.

Similarly to Maersk, COSCO SHIPPING announced that all amendments and changes of destination will be free of charge for Iskenderun bookings until the involved ports get back to normal operation.

French ocean carrier CMA CGM was another one shipping company that announced measures to face the operational difficulties caused by the earthquake. In particular, CMA CGM said it will divert its customers' cargo to Mersin.

The Marseille-based box line proposed the discharge in Mersin and delivery of the container in Mersin instead of Iskenderun or the discharge in Mersin and intermodal transport from Mersin (carrier haulage) to the destination of its customer choice.

Furthermore, Ocean Network Express (ONE) has also suspended all its services in Iskenderun with immediate effect. "For all cargo currently on the water or in transit, please contact your local ONE representative for contingency plans," said the company in a statement.

ONE added that terminal operations in Mersin resumed on 7 February at 08:00 (time in Turkey) and continue without any reported issues.

The terminal is expecting to face yard congestion in the coming days due to local infrastructure damages delaying container pickups.

ONE noted that its Mersin office, located close to the center of the first earthquake, has sustained minor damage and remains closed for the time being, while its Istanbul and Izmir offices remain fully functional.

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