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Egypt – Giant container ship stuck in Suez Canal partially refloated

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The giant container ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal for more than a day has been partially refloated and traffic along the fastest shipping route from Europe to Asia is expected to resume soon, port agent GAC said on Wednesday.

The 400-metre, 224,000-tonne Ever Given was stranded on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.

About 30% of global container ship traffic passes through the canal each day, carrying everything from fuel to consumer goods. The main alternative route for ships travelling between Asia and Europe, around the African cape, takes a week longer to navigate.

Pictures posted on social media had appeared to show the ship positioned diagonally across the canal, blocking its full width. Photos shared by the SCA showed a digger removing earth and rock from the bank of the canal around the ship’s bow.

About 12% of world trade by volume passes through the canal, and it is a major source of hard currency for Egypt.

Tracking maps had shown the ship grounded in the southernmost stretch of the waterway, between the Great Bitter Lake and the Red Sea port of Suez.

At least 30 ships were blocked to the north of the Ever Given, and three to the south, local sources said. Several dozen ships could also be seen grouped around the northern and southern entrances to the canal.

GAC said on Wednesday on its website that 15 other ships in the northbound convoy behind the Ever Given were detained at anchorages waiting for the canal to be cleared. A southbound convoy was also blocked.

Reporting by Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Egypt, and Jessica Jaganathan, Florence Tan, Roslan Khasawneh, Gavin Maguire, and Koustav Samanta in Singapore, Yimou Lee in Taipei, and Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Tom Hogue and Jan Harve.

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