SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ Thousands of striking dockworkers demanding higher pay have shut down the port of Santos, Latin America's largest.

The strike, that started Tuesday, paralyzed cargo handling on 30 ships docked in the port. Another 35 vessels were stranded at sea awaiting berths.

Codesp, the state company that administers the port, is losing almost $500,000 a day as a result of the strike, said Vander Carvalho, a Dock Workers Union director. He said each ship was losing between $10,000 and $25,000 a day.

He said 8,500 dockworkers walked off their jobs demanding a 138 percent wage increase. Codesp offered 55 percent. Dockworkers earn between $80 and $180 a month.

Santos is about 50 miles east of Sao Paulo.