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Traffic through Suez Canal fully suspended, as tugs try to free stuck container ship

Traffic through Suez Canal fully suspended, as tugs try to free stuck container ship
The Suez Canal Authority has fully suspended traffic through the channel, as eight tugboats engage in an ongoing re-floating operation to try to free the ship days after it ran aground in high winds.

The 400m vessel, ‘Ever Given’, became wedged diagonally in the single-lane canal on Tuesday morning, after the ship’s crew lost control of it in high winds and a dust storm, blocking access to one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

As eight tugboats surrounded the vessel in an attempt to drag it into deeper water, the Suez Canal Authority suspended traffic temporarily to allow the re-floating operation to proceed.

The work has so far been delayed by the weather conditions in the canal, producing continued high winds, as well as the sheer size of the vessel.

The decision from the authorities came as they confirmed that 13 ships are now waiting in the canal for ‘Ever Given’ to be released, with many more waiting at the entrance to the popular trade route.

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The Japanese owner of ‘Ever Given’, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, issued an apology on Thursday for the disruption that has been caused, stating that it was “determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible.”

When the vessel ran aground on Tuesday, it had two pilots from the Suez Canal Authority on board to guide it along the route, as well as 25 crew, all of whom were accounted for, with no reports of injuries or damage to the cargo ship.

Dredging teams are on site to help clear sand and mud from around the ship, but it is not yet clear exactly how long the process of dislodging it will take, with one of the firms assisting with the operation warning “it might take weeks.”

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