South Africa's Durban Port remains closed after severe storm

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The harbour was closed when a 300m container vessel was blown sideways by gale force winds effectively blocking the entrance to the harbour. "Our immediate focus is to continue with the implementation of the recovery operations", said TNPA Chief Executive Shulami Qalinge.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial officials confirmed on Wednesday that at least eight people had died as a result of the storm with further reports of missing people.

This included the stricken MSC INES container vessel that was grounded across the port's entrance channel. Five tugs successfully towed the 9,115-TEU, 348.5 metre vessel to safety. Sounding surveys indicate that there is some obstruction on the seabed that could pose a risk to navigation and the Port operators state that in the interest of ensuring safe navigation for vessels, operations have commenced in channels that are clear from obstruction. "A special thank you to all those involved including SAMSA, the private sector and our own TNPA tug masters and marine crew".

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'Ukhozi is one of nine new tugs being built for TNPA, but the first of two that will serve at our port alongside some of our older marine vessels.

Valued at R1.4-billion, the port's tug building programme is the largest single contract TNPA has ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft, and was awarded to Durban-based Southern African Shipyards, which also built TNPA's previous order of 12 tugs.

TNPA expected operations to return to normal by midday on Thursday.

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