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Mon 22 Sep 2008 07:28 AM

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Port Khalid fire damage estimated at $1.9bn

Top-level investigation underway into inferno that forced closure of Sharjah port.

Initial estimates suggest that nearly $2 billion damage was caused to Port Khalid in Sharjah during Saturday's inferno.

An investigation is to be held into the blaze at the Emirates Refinery Company (ERCO) that closed the port at the weekend.

Ships resumed loading and unloading on Sunday at the UAE’S largest port, although the ERCO plant was still cordoned off by police, reported UAE daily The National on Monday.

Rashid al Leem, the director general of Port Khalid, told the paper a committee comprising police, civil defence, port officials, Sharjah Municipality and Ministry of the Interior officials would investigate the cause of the fire and report within a few days.

Initial estimates were that the cost of damage could run to seven billion dirhams ($1.9 billion).

Mr Leem said 45 companies operated within the port and each followed safety regulations fully and regularly faced civil defence inspections.

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