Disasters & Accidents

Suez Canal navigation halted as efforts to refloat mega container continue

Cairo, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- The Suez Canal Authority on Thursday temporarily suspended navigation through the waterway while efforts to refloat the Panama-flagged mega container ship Ever Given continued.

The 400-meter (1,312-foot) vessel ran aground after it was blown off course amid strong winds and low visibility during a dust storm on Tuesday as it made its way north up the waterway during its route from China to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Admiral Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in a statement that transit through the waterway, a crucial maritime route for the global oil supply, would be halted until the vessel can be refloated.

Dozens of ships are backlogged at the Red Sea southern entrance of the Suez Canal, the Mediterranean northern entrance as well as in the Great Bitter Lake, which acts as a passing lane between two sections of waterway, the Dubai-based Gulf Agency Company, a logistics firm, said.

The Suez Canal Authority said eight tug boats were “towing and pushing” the grounded vessel, which has a tonnage of 224,000 tons.

Shoei Kisen, the Japanese company that owns the Ever Given, said it was working with authorities to shift the vessel, adding in a statement that it was “extremely difficult.”

The 25 crew members on board, all of Indian nationality, were unharmed and there was no sign of fuel leakage from the ship.

Built in 2018, the mega container ship is operated by Taiwan-based firm Evergreen Marine.

Last year a total of 18,829 ships passed through the Suez with a total net tonnage of 1.17 billion tons, bringing in a revenue of $5.61 billion.EFE-EPA

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