April 14, 2021

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Ship in Suez Canal is free, official says

2 min read
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021, shows tugboats pulling the Panama-flagged MV 'Ever Given' container ship lodged sideways impeding traffic across Egypt's Suez Canal waterway.
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority on March 29, 2021, shows tugboats pulling the Panama-flagged MV ‘Ever Given’ container ship lodged sideways impeding traffic across Egypt’s Suez Canal waterway. Handout/Suez Canal Authority/AFP/Getty Images

The Ever Given container ship has been partially dislodged after blocking the Suez Canal for almost a week, authorities say, but efforts to fully refloat it are likely to continue for some time.

There were promising signs early Monday when the rear of the vessel was freed from one of the canal’s banks, but the boss of the Dutch company working on the operation says its bow is still stuck “rock solid.”

Egyptian officials struck a more optimistic note, saying that crews plan to refloat the vessel later Monday. But the shipping crisis that has dominated headlines and captured the world’s attention for a week appears destined to continue.

About the ship: The Ever Given, a 224,000-ton vessel almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground in the Egyptian canal on March 23. Crews from Egypt and around the world have been working nonstop to try to refloat the ship, with the operation involving 10 tug boats, sand dredges and salvage companies.

Previous efforts have failed — but this latest attempt is being executed during high tide where the water in the channel is at its highest.

The massive salvage effort has focused on dredging sand from below the front and rear of the ship, before pulling the ship with tugboats.

Rescue teams started digging deeper and closer to the ship on Sunday, with dredging reaching 18 meters (or about 59 feet) at the front of the ship, the SCA said in a statement. Over 27,000 cubic meters (953,000 cubic feet) of sand has been removed so far, said Rabie.

The rescue operation has intensified in both urgency and international attention as each day ticked by. Ships from around the world, carrying vital fuel and cargo, were blocked from entering the canal on both sides, raising alarm over the impact on global supply chains.

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