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Iceport inferno delays vessel calls in Brazil

Iceport inferno delays vessel calls in Brazil

Rio De Janeiro: Asian liner operators have been hit by delays after a fire broke out and completely devastated the Iceport reefer warehouse, part of the Portonave container terminal, in the south of Brazil. The owners of the controversial Portonave container facility in Navegantes are currently assessing the cost of a fire, which has almost completely destroyed the Reais50M (USD$29.17M) Iceport facility.

A line manager for NYK Line based in Sao Paulo told SAO: "Our vessel, the Iwato, on the Brazil to US (AMS) service, could not enter the terminal because of the fire and we had to wait until the next day to berth. Everything is back to normal regarding Portonave but I don't know how long it will before Iceport is restored." The Panamanian flagged Iwato has capacity for 1611teu.

Asian chicken importers have also been hurt as some 14,000 tons of chicken, worth up to USD$30M had been stored in Iceport, and most of that has also been destroyed by the conflagration.

NYK Line also calls Portoanve with its NHX East Coast of South America to Asia service, along with Asian partners Hyundai and K Line. Other Asian carriers who use the Itajai Port Complex, include Evergreen and MOL Lines.

Iceport was only opened in March of this year and it was the key to Portonave over-coming the claim that it was breaking Brazilian port law for not having sufficient volumes of its own cargo. By stuffing and packing the reefer cargo (mostly chicken and pork) at Iceport it can claim it as its own cargo.

One reliable source close to Portonave said yesterday that the fire took several hours to put out and all port operations were halted for one day. However, no one was hurt in the fire and port operations were back to normal by the weekend.

The source told Seatrade Asia Online, "The most important thing is that no-one was hurt. Investigators will be at the site till the end of the week trying to find out what triggered the fire and what the final damage will be. From what I can see the main structure looks intact so hopefully they wont haveto build again from zero."

Portonave is owned by Triunfo Participacoes e Investimentos (a Brazilian investment group with construction interests) and Backmoon Investments Inc, which is understood to have links to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), who handled 51,000teu in October as the result of calls from several deep-sea and coastal services. Brazil's newest box terminals has been picking up business in recent months now that the channel to the Itajai Port Complex has been restored to the draught (10.5 metres) it had before the catastrophic floods of November, 2008.  [19/11/09]

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