A huge cargo ship is blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal after blowing sideways in strong winds.
Traffic on the crucial waterway linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea was brought to a halt yesterday after the MV Ever Given container ship got stuck.
Several tugboats surrounded the ship attempting to push it the right way and dislodge its bow from the canal’s eastern wall.
Evergreen Marine Corp, the Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the Panama-flagged vessel, said it had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea, but none of its containers had sunk.
Meteorologists said high winds and a sandstorm had plagued the area on Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 31mph.
The ship’s management firm said ‘all crew are safe and accounted for’, adding there have been ‘no reports of injuries or pollution’.
Egyptian officials said the operation to refloat the ship could take at least two days.
The Ever Given ran aground some 3.7 miles north of the canal’s southern mouth, near the city of Suez, where the canal becomes a narrow single lane.
It could have a major knock-on effect for global shipping, according to Salvatore R Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor.
He said: ‘Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south.
‘Every day the canal is closed … container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to Europe and goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.’
The Ever Given had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands prior to getting stuck.
Built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 metres (1,312ft) and a width of 59 metres (193ft), it is one of the largest cargo ships in the world.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West.
Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners.
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