The Cargo Letter

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Air & Ocean Freight Forwarder - Customs Broker News
2 November 1998

The Cargo Letter - LAX

LAX - 2 Nov. -- With word just now coming in, it is understood that elements of the world's Asiatic merchant fleet have sustained major damage as the result of Typhoon Babs this past week. The Philippines, PRC & Taiwan were major casulaties.

Major container vessel damage is reported. For example, reports to The Cargo Letter are that APL's M/V APL China lost approx. 300 containers, with some 1,000 more damaged. Similar damage is said to have been sustained by Maersk, Evergreen and other lines in Taiwan waters as a result of the typhoon. Sources at American President Lines (APL) estimate that losses could run well into the hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Late word is that the unfortunate situation looks like a "Surveyors Convention" as experts rush in to survey the damage caused.

At this hour L.A. Fire Department units are attempting to secure an unidentified vessel which lost containers over the side after making the Port of Los Angeles tonight. Other containers are said to have been lost while the vessel was underway from the Far East. Whether this container ship was a casualty of the typhoon is not known.

Given the important holiday shipping season, we should expect both salvaged and delayed cargo to be booked for air movement as the result of Typhoon Babs. Depending on volume, the squeeze could be tight.

Destruction is wide spread, but in just one region Typhoon Babs killed five people and caused US$57.98M in damage in China's southeastern Fujian province, the official Xinhua news agency said last Thursday. Three people were injured when Babs ravaged China's southeastern coast, causing torrential storms in most of the region, according to a report from the Fujian Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters. The typhoon devastated the coastal city of Zhangzhou, destroying 1,461 buildings, wrecking 114 boats and sinking 12 others. Babs also struck Longyan, another city in Fujian province, the report said.

The Philippines bore the brunt of Babs, which killed at least 189 people, injured nearly 400 and damaged 144,000 houses in a three-day sweep across the country's most populous island, Luzon. The Philippine government said it will buy abroad as much as 300,000 metric tons of rice to augment local supplies damaged by typhoon.

NOTE: The historic dangers of carriage by sea continue to be quite real. Shippers must be encouraged to purchase high quality marine cargo insurance from their freight forwarder or customs broker.

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