Suez Canal halts shipping; owner of ship blocking waterway apologises
Egypt on Thursday announced the full suspension of shipping in the Suez Canal
Cairo: Egypt on Thursday announced the full suspension of shipping in the Suez Canal, where efforts are underway to refloat a giant container ship that has run aground and disrupted traffic on one of the world's busiest trade routes.
The Panama-flagged ship, Ever Given, ran aground in the man-made canal on Tuesday due to a sandstorm, reportedly leaving dozens of other cargo vessels blocked from passing the major waterway, dpa news agency reported.
The 400-metres-long tanker veered off its course while sailing through the waterway on a Rotterdam-bound voyage coming from China. On Thursday, the head of the state-run Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Admiral Osama Rabae, said that navigation would be temporarily suspended during final ongoing efforts to free Ever Given.
"Efforts to refloat the ship have included pulling and pushing by eight giant tug boats," Rabae said in a statement. He did not say how long the refloating efforts would take. 13 ships passed through the canal on Wednesday despite the mishap, Rabae added without giving further details.
The incident started on Tuesday when strong winds blasted through the region and kicked up sands along the banks of the canal, which connects the Mediterranean in the north with the Red Sea in the south. The waterway less than 675 feet wide in some places. It can be difficult to navigate when there's poor visibility.
Evergreen Marine, the Taiwanese company that operates the ship, has said experts are for refloating it. “We sincerely apologise for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” the statement said.
On the other side, one of the biggest container ships in the world getting stuck in a narrow waterway gave enough content for meme-makers on social media. Memes flooded at the expense of a very small bulldozer which was sent to dislodge the giant ship.