Suez Canal still blocked

Suez Canal still blocked

Preparations are underway to make further attempts to move the gigantic container ship, which is stuck in the Suez Canal for the fifth day in a row, and to unblock the East-West waterway, which is crucial for world navigation. According to the owner of the ship, the next attempt will be made on Saturday evening.

The company commissioned to rescue the 400-meter container ship Ever Given is more cautious and speaks of "days or even weeks" to unblock the canal.

Ever Given, sailing under the Panamanian flag and hauling goods on the Asia-Europe route, ran aground on a narrow channel between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday. The container ship is stuck across a single lane stretch of the canal, approximately 6 km north of the south canal entrance, near the city of Suez.

The ship's technical support company, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), said that the attempt to remove it from the shoal on Friday had failed. Now there is a plan to pump water out of the ship's internal rooms, and two more tugs should arrive by Sunday to try to move the ship together with other vessels, BSM said.

A representative of the Suez Canal (SCA) governing authority said at least two attempts to pull the vessel off the shoal when the tide hit the ground were planned on Saturday. The timing of these attempts depends on the tide, he added. The official stipulated anonymity as he is not authorized to provide information to journalists, informs the AP agency.

Japanese company Shoei Kisen, which owns the container ship, said at least 10 tugs had been dispatched to assist with operations in the Suez Canal. Shoei Kisen president Yukito Higaki said at a press conference at the company's headquarters in Imabari, western Japan, that workers were deepening the shores and seabed near the ship's bow to try to pull it off the shoal when the tide starts.

Shoei Kisen said in a statement on Saturday that it is considering removing the containers to relieve the ship should attempts to lift it fail, but that would be a difficult operation.

The White House said it offered to help Egypt reopen the canal. "We have equipment and capabilities that most countries do not have; we know what we can do and what help we can provide," US President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday.

On Saturday, traffic congestion rose to around 280 vessels outside the Suez Canal, according to Leth Agencies. Some vessels began to change course, and dozens of vessels continued to head towards the canal, Refinitiv reported.

The protracted closure of a key waterway would cause delays in the global supply chain. About 10 percent world trade flows through a channel that is especially important for the transportation of crude oil. The closure could affect oil and gas transports to Europe from the Middle East, PA points out. (PAP)

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