Gabon recovers missing timber haul worth millions

Millions of dollars’ worth of a protected kind of wood that went missing earlier this year after being confiscated by authorities has now been recovered, a senior Gabonese prosecutor says.

Kevazingo wood is native to Gabon’s Congo Basin. The rare tree, which can take 500 years to grow to its full height of 40 metres (130 feet), is highly valued in Asia but is illegal to fell in Gabon.

A total of 353 transport containers of the timber – worth nearly $250m (£193m) – had been stolen in April from an overall quantity of 392 containers. Those 392 containers had been seized by authorities at the port of Owendo a month earlier.

But with 200 containers now recovered, there are still 153 unaccounted for.

Gabonese authorities said that the shipping containers recovered so far were found on the port premises of Cameroon-registered transport company SOTRASGAB, and on the property of company Owendo Container Terminal (OCT).

Neither company has responded to requests for comment.

Reuters reports that two Chinese nationals are being held in relation to the case. Gabonese authorities are also involved, the news agency quotes Gabon’s prosecutor general Olivier N’zahou as saying.

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