Engineers start to refloat ship stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal

LONDON and CAIRO — Egyptian authorities said Monday that engineers have “successfully started to refloat” the colossal cargo ship that became stuck on the banks of the Suez Canal last week and still continues to block traffic through the crucial waterway.

The so-called Ever Given, a 224,000-ton, 1,300-foot-long container ship registered in Panama, was freed from the shoreline as its course was corrected by 80%. The engineers, who have been trying for days to pull the fully laden vessel with tug boats, are scheduled to resume their efforts later Monday morning as the water level rises to its maximum, “allowing the ship’s course to be completely straightened,” according to a statement from Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority.

PHOTO: Tugboats are seen pulling the "Ever Given" container ship stuck sideways across Egypt's Suez Canal in this handout photo released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021.

The massive vessel, which is almost the size of the Empire State Building, was on its way from China to the Netherlands when it ran aground near the southern end of the 120-mile-long artificial waterway in Egypt last Tuesday morning, after a sandstorm and high winds caused poor navigation and low visibility, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

Traffic has since come to a complete halt as the ship remains stuck sideways across the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest trade routes that provides the shortest maritime link for goods traveling from Asia to Europe by connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

PHOTO: The Ever Given container ship is seen stranded in Egypt's Suez Canal in this March, 28, 2021 satellite image from Planet Labs, Inc.

Shoei Kisen Kaisha, the Japanese company that owns the Ever Given, said in a statement last Thursday that it was working with local authorities to resolve the situation but that was proving “extremely difficult.”

“We sincerely apologize for causing a great deal of worry to ships in the Suez Canal and those planning to go through the canal,” the company added.

As the blockage nears the one-week mark, there are growing concerns over how it could impact the global economy and supply chains. About 12% of the world’s trade volume passes through the Suez Canal, including approximately 1.9 billion barrels of oil per day.

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