News / Americas

Fire Engulfs Up to 300,000 Tons of Sugar at Brazil Port

Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
Reuters
A fire on Friday destroyed up to 300,000 tons of sugar and much of the Santos Port warehouses owned by Copersucar, the world's largest trader of the sweetener, the port authority of Santos said.
 
Copersucar says nearly a fifth of the world's sea-borne sugar trade flows through its trading desks.
 
ICE March raw sugar prices rose more than six percent to a one-year high on news of the fire, before paring gains. By 8:40 a.m. ET the contract was up three percent at 19.58 cents per lb.
 
“Three warehouses were destroyed by the fire and we are trying to control the fire now in a fourth,” said a representative for the fire department in Santos, adding that four people were hurt.
 
Copersucar has six warehouses with capacity to hold 50,000-100,000 tons each at the Santos port, the world's main source of raw sugar shipments. Copersucar officials said they had no additional information about the containment and damage of the blaze beyond what the fire department has reported.
 
Live television footage showed a three-story high mountain of sugar engulfed in flames inside a warehouse that had lost most of its siding and roof to the flames.
 
Some of the overhanging conveyor belts that transport sugar between the warehouses and eventually to waiting ships at the terminal in Santos appeared to have toppled over or were lying on the pavement alongside some of the warehouse.
 
Brazil is at the tail end of a record 585 million ton center-south cane harvest that is expected to produce 34 million tons of sugar. Roughly 15 percent of the crop remains to be crushed.
 
In June, Copersucar had inaugurated an expansion  project at Santos that doubled its export capacity to 10 million tons a year.
 
Copersucar represents 47 sugar mills in Brazil and recorded revenues of $4.1 billion in 2012. The company had hoped in June to expand its trading volume to nine million tons from 7.2 million tons in 2012.
 
Codesp, which manages the day-to-day operations at Santos, said the fire broke out shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time (0900 GMT), after which a ship berthed at the terminal was removed.
 
The fire appeared to have been preceded by an explosion, an event not uncommon with bulk commodities like grains or sugar. The dust and gasses emitted by such bulk commodities are extremely combustible.
 
When large stockpiles of sugar catch fire, it can be extremely difficult to extinguish the fire quickly. As the sugar burns it create a carbonized outer shell as the fire burns into the center of the mound that inhibits the penetration of water and chemicals that would otherwise snuff out the blaze.
 
Firefighters will also have the challenge of dealing with subterranean passages that connect some of Copersucar's warehouses and through which sugar is transported.
 
Fabrienne Pointier at data provider Platts said the loss of the large volume of sugar is not as bad as the damage the fire has done to Copersucar's infrastructure at Santos.
 
“The real significance is that it is going to slow down the logistics. It's going to be many months to rebuild those warehouses,” Pointier said.
 
Michael McDougal at sugar trader Newedge estimated it might take six months to get operations at the terminal back up and running.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Right to Die: Colombian Man Ends Life with Government Backup

After heated public debate and last-minute legal challenges, 79-year-old becomes first Colombian to die as result of government-sanctioned euthanasia
More

3 Mexican Journalists Assassinated in Week

Rights groups call on Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate recent murders in Oaxaca, Veracruz and Guanajuato
More

Ecuador Is Prime Example at Heart of Pope's Climate Stance

Pope Francis begins his South America tour this weekend in country that is prime example of tensions between politics, business and environment
More

Experts: US-Cuba Moves Likely to Deepen N Korea’s Isolation

Korea University professor sees US-Cuba normalization as 'quite an ideological eye-opener' for Pyongyang, a longtime Havana ally
More

Pope to Tour 3 South American Countries

Grueling, week-long trip will showcase Francis at his unpredictable best: speaking his native Spanish on his home turf about issues closest to his heart
More

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military

Proposed legislation would ban Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with the Cuban military or the Cuban Ministry of the Interior
More