Turkey Charters Ro/Ro Ferry for Quake Relief Housing

Courtesy Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, General Directorate of Maritime Affairs

Published Feb 21, 2023 2:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

A ro/ro ferry will soon be used to provide emergency shelter at the port of Iskenderun, Turkey, the main hub of the relief effort for the massive quakes that struck the nation's southern province of Hatay. 

Turkey's Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has signed a charter to use the cabin space aboard the ro/pax ferry MSC Aurelia, which arrived in port on Monday. She joins another ro/ro chartered by a different ministry, which is providing about 400 beds for emergency use.  

Survivors register to board MSC Aurelia at Iskenderun (Courtesy Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, General Directorate of Maritime Affairs)

The need for housing is serious. An estimated 350,000 apartments and homes across southern Turkey were destroyed by the disaster, and at least one million people are living in temporary shelter arrangements, including tent housing. About 80,000 injured residents have been hospitalized, and about 47,000 victims have been confirmed dead. The World Health Organization described the back-to-back magnitude 7.6 quakes as "the worst natural disaster in the region for a century." On Monday, a pair of smaller aftershocks (magnitude 6.4 and 5.8)  killed an additional three people.  

The region's maritime industry suffered isolated disruption, confined largely to the port of Iskenderun. The seaport's container terminal suffered a serious fire in a container storage area after the earthquake, and the blaze took days to extinguish. The port is already back in action serving relief sealift efforts, with the support of the broader Turkish maritime sector, but it expects that it will be three months before it can fully restore commercial service. 

Ratings agency Moody's has decided to place the eurobonds issued by Iskenderun port operator LimakPort on review for a possible downgrade, reflecting the impact of the quake and the length of time it may take to restore full operations. LimakPort's current Moody's rating stands at B3, defined as "considered speculative and subject to high credit risk."