Suez Canal salvage teams were alternating between dredging and tugging on Sunday (March 28) to dislodge a massive container ship blocking the busy waterway, while two sources said efforts had been complicated by rock under the ship’s bow.
Meanwhile, vessels are seen waiting to pass in the Suez Canal in the city of Ismailia, as the ship is stuck in the canal for the sixth consecutive day.
Dredgers working to dislodge the stranded vessel have so far shifted 27,000 cubic metres of sand, to a depth of 18 metres, and efforts would continue around the clock according to wind conditions and tides, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered preparations for the possible removal of some of the ship’s 18,300 containers, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt’s Extra News.
Any operation to lighten the ship’s load would not start before Monday (March 29), an SCA source said.
The 400-metre (430-yard) long Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds more than five days ago, halting shipping traffic in one of the world’s busiest waterways.
At least 369 boats are waiting to transit the canal, Rabie said, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels.
Shippers affected by the blockage may be offered discounts, Rabie said, adding that he believed investigations would show the canal was not responsible for the Ever Given running aground.
About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal, which is a key source of foreign currency revenues for Egypt. The current stoppage is costing the canal $14-15 million daily.
(Production: Sayed Sheasha, Mai Shams El-Din)