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Suez Canal finally unblocked as huge container ship set free

The Ever Given cargo ship is finally on the move up the Suez Canal (Picture: AFP/Getty)


The giant cargo ship holding up billions of pounds of trade on the Suez Canal is finally free and on the move. Tug boats managed to refloat the Ever Given vessel away from the crucial waterway’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday. The cargo ship could be heard blaring its horns as it was pulled toward the Great Bitter Lake, in the middle of the canal, where it will undergo inspections. Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the centre of the artery.

The incident was dubbed the second ‘Suez Crisis’ as $9 billion (£6.5 billion) in global trade was held up every day, straining supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. It remains unclear when canal traffic will return to normal, although data firm Refinitiv estimates it could take more than 10 days to clear the backlog of ships. At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, were left waiting to pass through for nearly a week. Dozens were forced into taking the lengthy alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip – a detour costing hundreds of thousands of pounds in fuel and other costs.

It’s believed high winds caused the cargo ship to suddenly turn sideways some 3.7 miles north of the canal’s southern mouth, near the city of Suez, where the canal becomes a narrow single lane. Teams of dredgers and diggers were sent in to vacuum up sand and mud from the Ever Given’s enormous bow, while 10 tug boats pushed and pulled the vessel for five days. Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West. Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. – metro.co.uk

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