Rescue efforts to unlock the Panama-flagged mega-ship Ever Given from the Suez Canal finally proved successful early Monday, Egyptian authorities confirmed. But it was too soon to know when traffic through the vital waterway might resume.
The Ever Given - which is almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall - ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said then in a statement.
Maritime service operators Inchcape Shipping confirmed the vessel had been refloated at 4.30, local time.
SCA Chief Admiral Osama Rabie, had announced in the early hours of Monday that the work to try to dislodge the ship was resuming with the help of 10 giant tugs that have operated from four different directions.
The ship's positioning has been restored to 80% in the right direction, Rabie said, before adding that the stern of the ship moved 102 meters from the shore.
The maneuvers will resume when the water flow increases again, starting at 11:30 local time, he added, but warned that the water had to reach a specific level to completely rescue the ship and thus be able to reposition it in the middle of the canal.
“The teams on site carried out technical checks and ensured that the ship's engine was working,” Rabie explained.
Egyptian President Abdelfatah al Sisi had ordered on Sunday that preparations be made to unload part of the 18,300 containers on board, but Rabie had voiced his confidence it would ne be necessary to reach those lengths. We hope we don't get to a scenario where we have to start removing containers from the ship, but we are preparing for the event that it does, Rabie had said.
At any rate, the date on which maritime traffic will be resumed has not been announced for the moment. The number of ships waiting to access the canal between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean amounted Sunday to at least 369, including oil tankers and others carrying liquefied gas.
The Ever Given's incident has caused an unprecedented traffic jam on one of the world's busiest trade routes, leading to the diversion of more than 200 ships with losses exceeding 9.5 billion dollars a day.
If business do not get back to normal soon enough and in addition to the coronavirus predicament, South America's supply of toilet paper could be affected due to lack of pulp, according to Walter Schalka, CEO of Brazilian cellulose company Suzano SA, quoted by Bloomberg News.
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