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Two more ships with grain depart from Ukraine, says Turkey's defence ministry

The additions bring the total number of vessels to depart Ukraine under the UN-brokered deal to 16, amounting to 450,000 tonnes of agriculture products
The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Navi Star carrying tons of grain from Ukraine sails along the Bosphorus Strait past Istanbul on 7 August (AFP/File photo)

Two more ships carrying grain left from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Saturday, Turkey's defence ministry said, bringing the total number of vessels to depart the country under a UN-brokered deal to 16.

The Barbados-flagged Fulmar S left Ukraine's Chornomorsk port, carrying 12,000 tonnes of corn to Turkey's southern Iskenderun province, the ministry said. The Marshall Island-flagged Thoe departed from the same port and headed to Turkey's Tekirdag, carrying 3,000 tonnes of sunflower seeds.

Another ship was to depart from Turkey on Saturday to Ukraine to buy grains, the statement said. 

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Ukraine's infrastructure ministry said on Saturday that 16 ships carrying 450,000 tonnes of agriculture products had departed from Ukrainian sea ports since early August under the deal which ensured safe passage for vessels.

The agreement, signed by Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations in July amid warnings of possible outbreaks of famine, allowed grain exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports to resume after being stalled for five months due to the war.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said that in less than two weeks, Ukraine had managed to export the same amount of grain from three ports as it had done by road for the whole of July.

"This has already made it possible to reduce the severity of the food crisis," he said in a video address on Saturday.

Ukraine hopes to increase its maritime exports to over 3 million tonnes of grain and other agriculture products per month in near future.

Ukraine and Russia are major grain exporters, and the blockage of Ukrainian ports has trapped tens of millions of grain in the country, raising fears of severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.