(Update 1: Adds detail, alters dateline, headline, re-ledes)
Ismailia, Cairo, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- The head of the Suez Canal Authority on Saturday was unable to give a specific date for when works to refloat the Ever Given mega container would conclude.
The 400-meter long vessels ran aground in the canal on Tuesday, blocking traffic through the waterway, an important trade route linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean.
“It’s difficult to put a time on when the problem will be solved,” Admiral Osama Rabie told the press at a conference in Ismailia, on the banks of the Suez Canal.
He said he was optimistic that the huge vessel would be able to move thanks to the work of 14 tug boats on duty since Friday, but said it would depend on the tide.
“I can’t say when we will finish, maybe tonight, God willing, maybe tomorrow,” he added.
Leth Agencies, a logistics company, said at least 276 ships are being held up by the Panama-flagged, 220,000-ton vessel.
The Suez Canal Authority on Thursday suspended transit through the canal.
The Japanese owner of the Ever Given, Shoei Kisen, said on Friday it expected that the vessel could be freed around Saturday night Japanese time.
The mega container, operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Maritime, ran aground after it was likely blown off course amid strong winds and low visibility during a dust storm on Tuesday as it made its way north up the waterway en route from China to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.