A cargo container ship that’s equivalent to the length of four football pitches has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal.
The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded Tuesday in the narrow, man-made waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula, CBSNEWS reports.
A team from Boskalis, a Dutch firm specialized in salvaging, also arrived at the canal to aid rescue operation on Thursday.
“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Berdowski told the Dutch television program “Nieuwsuur,” according to Reuters. Shipping sources told Reuters that if the delays continue, ships could potentially start re-routing around the southern tip of Africa, which adds thousands of miles and about a week to the journey
At the time of reporting this, dozens of ships stuck at both the north and south entrances to the shortest route between Asia and Africa.
Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) announced that navigation through the canal was “temporarily suspended” until the hulking Panamanian-flagged container vessel MV Ever Given can be re-floated.
Egypt is using eight large tugboats and excavation equipment on the banks of the canal, but so far all efforts to refloat the nearly-quarter-of-a-mile-long, 247,000-ton container ship have failed.
The Japanese company that owns the Ever Given, Shoei Kisen, told The Associated Press that it was cooperating with the local authorities, but “the operation is extremely difficult.”
“We are extremely sorry for causing tremendous worry to the ships that are traveling or scheduled to travel in the Suez Canal, and all the related people,” the company said.
30% of the world’s shipping container freight typically passes through the Suez Canal every day — a journey that takes around six hours — amounting to about 12% of the total goods traded globally, according to Reuters.
The news agency cited industry consultancy Kpler as saying that while the canal only facilitates the transit of about 4.4% of the world’s total flow of oil products, a prolonged disruption could impact supplies to Asia and Europe.
( With input from the cbsnews )