Global financial crisis setting in for shipping

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Ernesto Igama quit his job as a ship's engineer after a pirate attack seven years ago. His love for the sea has brought him back, but now the global financial crisis could keep him stranded on land.

"If you only know what I've gone through — disasters, accidents, my leg was broken and there was a time our ship nearly sank," said Igama, 64. "But I really enjoy my job. I feel like my strength is being sapped when I am on land."

These days, though, he spends afternoons chatting with other idled Filipino sailors looking for jobs at shipping agency recruitment booths in a Manila park amidst a downturn in business.

The turbulence from the global financial meltdown is finally crashing down on the shipping industry, which appears to be increasingly headed for the docks because fewer companies are ordering goods to transport.

Thanks to a backlog of orders, shipping was initially immune when the world's economy started its downturn in September. Now, those orders are running out, as is time for what has been a boom industry in recent years.

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