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Two more grain ships sail from Ukraine as third port opens

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Two more ships, carrying corn and soybeans, departed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Monday, Turkey and Ukraine said, taking the total to ten since the first ship sailed last week under a deal with Russia to unblock Ukrainian grain exports.

The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement last month after warnings the halt in grain shipments caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine could lead to severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.

The Sacura, which departed from Pivdennyi, is carrying 11,000 tonnes of soybeans to Italy, Turkey's defence ministry said on Monday, while the Arizona, which left Chornomorsk, is carrying 48,458 tonnes of corn to Iskenderun in southern Turkey.

Ukraine's infrastructure minister, Oleksandr Kubrakov, confirmed both ships had left, adding Pivdennyi, the third Ukrainian port included in the deal, was finally up and running as part of the initiative.

Kubrakov had said previously the opening of Pivdennyi would push Ukraine's total export capacity up to three million tonnes a month.

In peacetime, Ukraine exported up to six million tonnes of grain a month from its ports on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coast.

The four ships that left Ukraine on Sunday are expected to anchor near Istanbul on Monday evening, Turkey's defence ministry said, adding they would be inspected on Tuesday.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine for what it calls its "special military operation", the two countries together accounted for nearly a third of global wheat exports.

The resumption of grain exports is being overseen by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) in Istanbul where Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel are working.

The Razoni, which was the first ship to depart, was scheduled to arrive in Lebanon on Sunday but is currently at anchor off Turkey's southern coast, according to Refinitiv ship tracker data.

Ukraine's Infrastructure Ministry said on Sunday the Fulmar S, the first foreign-flagged bulk ship to reach the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk since the conflict, was ready for loading.

A second ship traveling to Ukraine, the Osprey S, was inspected in Istanbul on Sunday and was nearing Ukraine on Monday morning, Refinitiv data also showed.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Mark Potter)

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