ISTANBUL (Reuters) -A team of inspectors in Turkey on Friday completed checking an empty cargo ship before it heads off to collect grain from the Ukrainian port of Chornomorsk under a deal to restart Ukrainian grain exports, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.
The ministry published photos on Twitter showing the inspection team looking into the hold and other areas of the Barbados-flagged general cargo ship Fulmar S, which was at anchor in the Black Sea just to the north of Istanbul’s Bosphorus Strait.
Vessels to load Ukrainian grain are being inspected by Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish and U.N. personnel who are working at a Joint Coordination Centre in Istanbul.
State-owned Anadolu news agency said the inspection lasted about 1-1/2 hours while a coast guard helicopter and vessel patrolled the area.
Separately, three ships loaded with grain under the deal have left the Ukrainian ports of Chornomorsk and Odesa, the ministry and Reuters witnesses said.
The first vessel allowed to leave port carrying Ukrainian grain since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine left Odesa on Monday, bound for Lebanon, under the safe passage deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations.
(Reporting by Daren ButlerEditing by Bradley Perrett and David Goodman)