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Cablegate: Fatal Explosion in Lattakia Port

VZCZCXRO5261
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHDM #6327 3391610
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051610Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5933
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 006327

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR ELTN ECIN SY
SUBJECT: FATAL EXPLOSION IN LATTAKIA PORT


1. (SBU) Local and international press reported widely
yesterday a huge explosion in the Lattakia port that resulted
in eighteen injuries, one death and the destruction of up to
four grain silos as well as the system of conveyor belts that
connects them. Dr. Mohammad Fadel, manager of a major grain
and soybean importing company, confirmed news reports that
the explosion occurred from the combustion of thick and very
volatile grain dust, which he said can explode with the force
of TNT. He stated that at the time of the explosion the port
was busy handling a large shipment of wheat and barley, and
that the old concrete silos, which lacked ventilation and
were not managed by established safety standards, quickly
filled with dust. Fadel continued that workmen concurrently
were welding parts of the conveyor system that connects the
silos, and the sparks from the welding caused the dust to
explode.

3. (SBU) Other contacts state that the 25-50% decrease in
capacity of the Lattakia port for grain shipments will put an
increased strain on Syria's already limited port and grain
storage facilities. Contacts further state that this could
have a serious effect on transit shipments of commodities to
Iraq, potentially causing longer delays and increased prices
for freight and transportation. Fadel stated that he and
other importers are beginning to shift their business to the
port in Tartous, where currently there is a wait of at least
ten days before ships can unload their cargo. Fadel expects
the wait to increase by at least five days with the addition
of the Lattakia traffic.
SECHE

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