Cairo, Mar 24 (efe-epa).- Efforts to refloat a huge container ship that has blocked the Suez Canal after running aground in bad weather continued Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said the 400-meter (1,312-foot), Panama-flagged Ever Given was likely blown off course amid strong winds and low visibility during a dust storm on Tuesday.
It ran aground sideways at the 151-kilometer mark of the Suez Canal, blocking traffic on one of the most important maritime trade routes.
The vessel, with a tonnage of 224,000 tons, had been on its way from China to Rotterdam, making its way north through the canal, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean, the authority said.
Rabie said eight tug boats were taking part in the operation to refloat the huge vessel.
The Dubai-based Gulf Agency Company said at least 15 ships were held up by the grounded vessel, which is operated by Taiwan-registered Evergreen Marine.
Adverse weather conditions have brought strong winds and sandstorms to Egypt this week.
Last year a total of 18,829 ships passed through the Suez with a total net tonnage of 1.17 billion tons.
It brought in a revenue of $5.61 billion.EFE-EPA