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Description: Country Damage may be caused by rain, flood, mud, sand, or a combination of any of these causes. Insects, particularly ants, can also cause damage. The surveyor at destination should be able to differentiate between country damage (which will, by its nature, be external in origin and penetrating inwards, depending upon the extent of the damage and density of the bales), and damage caused by "damp packed," i.e. baling while the cotton is still damp, which damage will be fairly evenly spread throughout the bale. Frequently some bales from a shipment burst in transit, but this does not entail any damage to the cotton, and since it is so densely pressed the worst that can happen is a small loss from shortage which can be ascertained by weighing. Superficial damage is normally assessed as a "picking claim," that is the surveyor estimates the weight of the damaged cotton and, taking into account the damaged value of the fiber, agrees an allowance "in lieu of picking." The alternative of brushing off the mud, etc., and picking of the damaged cotton and then mending the Hessian covering, is expensive compared with the extent of the damage and should be avoided when possible. Sometimes an allowance "in lieu of picking" is assessed in cash instead of weight but assessment by weight is preferable as it avoids the necessity of agreeing sound values and simplifies the subsequent adjustment. Heating and Spontaneous Combustion - Cotton is liable to heat damage due to microbiological action and is also liable to spontaneous ignition due to exhalation of minute quantities of methane (marsh gas) when packed wet. The methane is ignited either by spark due to bursting bands contacting other ferrous metals or coming into contact with chlorine. Cotton, being a cellulose substance, is capable of generating a sufficient supply of oxygen to maintain combustion in the interior of a press-packed bale. In countries where the saw gin is used and press boxes are filled through a pneumatic conveyor system, sparks due to friction may find their way into the interior of a bale and combustion continues for an indefinite time. As cotton is liable to spontaneous combustion if in contact with oil, it should not be stowed in the same compartment as cargo of an oily nature, such as groundnuts or any similar commodity which may contain vegetable, animal or other oils, or in the same stowage as other goods which, because of possible leakage or seepage, might bring oil into contact with cotton. In cases where cotton has been damaged by fire, the surveyor should endeavor to determine the nature of the stowage and the cargo in the same space and provide information of this in the survey report.
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