A DEVASTATING earthquake has toppled containers and halted operations at ports on Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean coast.

At the time of writing, the death toll from the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Turkey and Syria is reported at 7700 – a number that has been rising steadily and is sure to continue to increase.

Deaths have been reported in 11 provinces in southern Turkey, and media reports indicate the hardest-hit areas in the country are the provinces of Hatay (where the port of İskenderun is located), Adıyaman and Kahramanmaraş.

DCN understands all operations at BTC Ceyhan, Botaş Ceyhan, Botaş Dörtyol LNG Terminal and Limak Terminal at İskenderun were suspended after the quake.

At the Port of İskenderun, a fire broke out on the wharf amongst stacks of toppled containers. Images from the scene showed a Turkish Coast Guard vessel alongside near the burning containers, spraying water over the burning containers.

The Turkish Defence Ministry has said the fire had been extinguished. The state-run Anadolu Agency reported that water-bombing aircraft from the Turkish armed forces were employed to help put out the blaze.

Container lines are not accepting bookings for İskenderun-bound cargo, as the port is closed until further notice.

Maersk said it is developing contingency plans involving nearby hubs and additional feeder vessels.

CMA CGM said it was diverting cargo to the nearby Turkish port of Mersin.

MSC said it was monitoring the situation.

Operations at the oil terminals at Ceyhan ceased after the earthquake, but, according to reports, loading operations have begun at the Botaş Ceyhan terminal, with AIS tracking data showing the tanker Vallesina berthed at the terminal.