The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake, impacting primarily Turkey on 6th February, has taken a severe toll on human life with around 13 million affected and the death toll reaching 8,700. Many aftershocks rocked Turkey and neighbouring countries since the initial quake. For an already conflict plagued Syria, which shares its northern border with Turkey, the problems have doubled.
“In the first 11 hours, the region had felt 13 significant aftershocks with a magnitude of at least 5.” Alex Hatem, a USGS research geologist
Consequently, the Turkish President has declared an ’emergency’ in the country for the next 3 months. Coupled with the winter storm in the region, risks have increased both for people forced from their homes and survivors buried under debris.
“It is now a race against time,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
When such an enormous disaster takes place, the economic and operational wellbeing of the country also takes a significant hit. Included in more than 5000 buildings of Turkey which were confirmed to have been collapsed, there must have been offices, godowns, warehouses, apart from homes.
Turkey’s Port of Iskenderun, on the Mediterranean shore, remains closed until further notice, as teams look to repair the significant damage caused by the disaster and subsequent fire that gutted majority of containers. The port handles cargo like fertiliser, corn, wheat, bran, soybean as well as pipes and iron. Maersk, one of the world’s biggest shipping companies, announced that their teams are working hard towards developing contingency plans involving nearby hubs and additional feeder vessels, with the aim of minimising the overall impact on customers and their supply chains.
On the other hand, adverse weather conditions are obstructing loading operations at Turkey’s Ceyhan Port while the damages from the disaster are still being assessed after operations were interrupted. The Ceyhan Port is vital for the discharge of crude oil and oil products, along with the loading of Azeri crude and a stream of Iraqi crude oil.
Shipping lines serving the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions have already begun rerouting Iskenderun-destined shipments and reworking Turkish supply chains. Due to a devastating structural damage to the port, all planned arrivals will be diverted to Port of Mersin in Turkey and Port Said in Egypt.A statement from another shipping giant CMA CGM (India) said that the cargo will be diverted to Mersin where their customers can make delivery arrangements.
The epicentre of the quake was near the city of Gaziantep, an industrial hub central to the country’s textile industry. If not under direct and immediate impact from the earthquake, many economic activity and supply chains are suffering due to the subsequent aftereffects like power outages, damage to telecom links, and other inevitable bottlenecks.
Moreover, due to the extremely wreaked infrastructure, even the supply of relief aid and supplies is facing logistical issues. This includes first aid, medicines and medical equipment flying or sailing in from various parts of the world. While tackling the broken roads and bridges is a task, the ways in and out of the region are either completely shut or heavily congested, and the climatic conditions are not making it any easier due to snowstorms.
Airfreight is also severely disrupted. Everstream Analytics, an entity that scores risk and gives predictive insights to set the world’s supply chain standard, said it expects airfreight backlogs to get worse as some airports limit passenger flights, which often carry freight, to give priority to rescue teams. It should be noted that many airports in Turkey were already vexed with backlogs caused by poor weather conditions that limited flight operations before the earthquakes struck.
“Just when a country or region needs airfreight the most for humanitarian aid and relief for medical supplies is when rates skyrocket because everyone is trying to help and support as fast as they can.” Brian Bourke, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Seko Logistics