Chile's ports and inland infrastructure networks are handling freight once again but with the delays that are expected after a major earthquake and aftershocks.
The Port of Valparaiso is now 90 percent operational, according to a statement from the port authority. Chile's main airport is also returning to normal operations, although delays are occurring because of a backup of air freight.
The massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck last Saturday in the south-central region of the country and was followed by a series of large aftershocks. Hundreds of Chileans were killed. Ports, airports, roads and bridges were damaged.
Fruit, the key export at this time of year, was especially affected because a loss of electricity in some growing regions shut down packing facilities.
The Chilean government's earthquake preparedness program was implemented and perishables that could not be transported on the preferred highways were moved via alternative, but more circuitous routes.
"What was to have been a four-hour trip became an eight to 10-hour trip," said Nancy Tucker, vice president of development at the Produce Marketing Association in Newark, Del.
Highly perishable fruits like blueberries are most susceptible to spoiling because of delays in the transportation infrastructure, said Jimmy Williams, sales representative at California Grower Direct Marketing in Stockton. Hardier stone fruits such as peaches and nectarines can tolerate moderate delays, he said.
According to a statement from the Chilean Exporters Association, most of the freight transportation networks should be operating relatively normally by mid-week next week. The northern Port of Coquimbo, which specializes in handling fruit, was not affected by the earthquake and is accepting cargo diverted from other ports.
San Antonio, Chile's second largest port is expected to be operating at 90 percent of capacity over the weekend. All five of the fruit inspection stations that handle product for the U.S. market are working, the association stated.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.