April 6, 2019 / 5:53 PM / 2 months ago

CORRECTED-Brazil bridge collapse could affect grain shipments in north

(Corrects to say Belém is the capital of Para state, not Amazonas)

SAO PAULO, April 6 (Reuters) - Part of a bridge over the Moju River in Brazil’s Para state collapsed early on Saturday, potentially affecting shipment of grains such as soybeans and corn through northern ports, local authorities and an agribusiness consultant said.

The bridge fell after it was hit by a boat, Governor Helder Barbalho said on Twitter, where he also posted videos of a large section of the bridge in the water. He said this was not the first time such an accident had occurred.

According to the official Agência Brasil news agency, two vehicles were crossing the bridge at the time of the collision. There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

Kory Melby, an agribusiness consultant based in the city of Goiania, said the bridge that collapsed is the main roadway that connects Brazil’s farm country to its northern ports.

He said the bridge is located some 50 kilometers from Belém, capital of Pará state, where three major grain loaders operate including Archer Daniels Midland Co, Bunge Ltd and Hidrovias do Brasil SA.

The companies did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Melby said barge traffic would not be affected for those coming in on the Tocantins and Amazon Rivers, referring to operations on river ports including Vila do Conde and Barcarena. Some 10 to 20 percent of the soy is delivered by road at those ports, he said.

Willians Ribeiro, a supervisor at Vila do Conde, told Reuters road traffic to that port will be affected but there are alternative routes.

Shipping statistics show some 5.7 million tonnes of soybeans and 3 million tonnes of corn were loaded out in the region, a volume that was likely to increase due to port expansions, according to the consultant. (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi; Additional reporting and writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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