Container ship stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal is pulled free

Traffic jam builds behind massive cargo ship stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal World3 days ago0:39

The giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week has been fully floated and traffic in the waterway would resume, the canal authority said in a statement.

Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the Ever Given from the canal's sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday.

"We pulled it off!" said Peter Berdowski, the head of Boskalis, the specialty company that was asked to move the Ever Given.

Witnesses saw the Ever Given moving and a shipping tracker showed it positioned in the centre of the canal.

Ships anchor in Lake Timsah, Ismailia, halfway through Egypt's Suez canal on March 25, 2021. The obstruction has held up $9 billion USA each day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.

With canal transits stopped, Egypt already has lost over $95 million in revenue, according to the data firm Refinitiv.

Even before the ship was fully freed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi portrayed the development as a victory in his first comments on the stranded vessel.

But Rabie on Saturday said "technical or human errors" could have led to the grounding of the Taiwan-run, Panama-flagged container ship near the southern end of the 193-kilometer (120-mile) long canal.

Stranded Ever Given back afloat in Suez Canal: Reports

"Further, once the blockage is removed, it may still take at least a week for all the piled-up vessels to pass through the canal", he said.

"Mission accomplished", one villager Abdalla Ramadan said.

The canal reopens after almost a week of blocked traffic at the key shipping route connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It's estimated it will take 10 days to get all the ships through the canal, leading some to take a detour that forces the ships to travel an extra 3,100 miles and adding hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs.

The breakthrough came after days of huge effort with an elite salvage team from the Netherlands.

The partial freeing of the vessel came after intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel with 10 tugboats when the full moon brought spring tide, Leth Agencies said, raising the canal's water level and hopes for a breakthrough.

The operation was extremely delicate.

The 400-meter-long boat became stuck after its steering was affected by strong winds and a sandstorm.

The unprecedented shutdown has threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of extended delays, good shortages and rising costs for consumers. "We used to have big, fat warehouses in all the countries where the factories pulled supplies". Clothing, electronic products and construction materials are among the goods that enter the port from Asia, port spokeswoman Melanie Nadeau said.

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