Massive cargo ship that blocked Egypt's Suez Canal is reportedly on the move

Massive cargo ship that blocked Egypt's Suez Canal is reportedly on the move

A cargo container ship that’s among the largest in the world turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, officials said Wednesday.

The ship is now on the move, indicating a resumption of traffic in the waterway, a shipping source and witness told Reuters.

Port agent GAC said the stranded ship, Ever Given, had been partially refloated and moved alongside the canal bank, Reuters reported.

In this photo released by the Suez Canal Authority, a boat navigates in front of a massive cargo ship, named the Ever Green, rear, sits grounded Wednesday, March 24, 2021, after it turned sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping.

Suez Canal Authority | AP

Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.

An Egyptian official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, similarly blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident. Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (31 mph).

“All crew are safe and accounted for,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given. “There have been no reports of injuries or pollution.” The management company denied the ship ever lost power.

The Ever Given’s bow had been touching the canal’s eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against its western wall, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com. Several tug boats surrounded the ship, likely attempting to push it the right way, the data showed.

An image posted to Instagram by a user on another waiting cargo ship appeared to show the Ever Given wedged across the canal as shown in the satellite data. A backhoe appeared to be digging into the sandbank under its bow in an effort to free it.

In this photo released by the Suez Canal Authority, a cargo ship, named the Ever Green, sits with its bow stuck into the wall Wednesday, March 24, 2021, after it turned sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping.

Suez Canal Authority | AP

The Ever Given had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands prior to getting stuck in the canal. The ship, built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 meters (a quarter-mile) and a width of 59 meters (193 feet), is among the largest cargo ships in the world. It can carry some 20,000 containers at a time.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West. Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, the Ever Given ran aground before that new portion of the canal.

Reuters contributed to this report.