The March 11 aftershocks of Chile’s earlier earthquake did not seem to cause significant building damage, but ports closed, roads were damaged and further delays in fruit shipments are probable.


“All packinghouses stopped working yesterday as employees returned home,” said Juan Pablo Vicuna, president of Santiago-based Dole Chile S.A., on March 12. “Also, because of the tsunami alert, ports were closed for around 24 hours.”


The aftershocks contributed to a significant decline in Dole fruit exports from Chile the week of March 8, Vicuna said.


“The originally expected shipments for this week will be down around 45%,” he said.


No direct building damage was reported as a result of the aftershocks, Vicuna said.


The Port of Valparaiso, through which most Chilean fruit exports pass, reopened March 12 and was running at about 60% capacity, said Josh Leichter, director of the grape category in the Newark, Del., office of Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.


The Port of San Antonio was operating at lower capacity, Leichter said. And some road damage was reported.


“People are finding alternates to their alternate routes,” he said. “A bridge that maybe was under review is now closed.”


Leichter agreed with Vicuna, however, that additional damage to packing sheds and other infrastructure appeared to be minimal.


The biggest effect of the aftershocks, Leichter said, could be that already-scared workers will be even more leery of returning to work.


“People are so scared with the aftershocks, they don’t want to be inside packing sheds and away from their families,” he said. “Or if they do show up, their heads aren’t in it.”


The aftershocks caused some power outages but no major damage to packing sheds or port facilities, according to a March 12 news release from the Santiago-based Chilean Exporters Association, ASOEX.


“With the exception of a short-term gap in arrivals this coming week, late-season shipments from Chile should be relatively normal,” the release said.