Traffic through the Suez Canal has been partially resumed after a large container ship that ran aground in the strategic waterway’s southern end was refloated.
The Panama-registered ship Ever Given, which has been wedged across the narrow single traffic lane of Suez Canal since last Tuesday, was dislodged at 3 pm Monday local time with the help of dredgers and tug boats.
The 224,000-ton fully-loaded vessel, with a capacity to carry 20000 containers, was towed to Great Bitter Lakes for technical inspection.
Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Mounir Rabie said at a news conference that navigation on both directions of the Canal resumed at 6 PM local time Monday.
More than 400 ships are currently waiting to transit through the canal, and the backlog is expected to be cleared in three or three and a half days, he told reporters.
Ships carrying livestock were given priority and allowed to enter the first convoy, he added.
The Suez Canal Authority said that out of 36 ships that entered the Canal Tuesday morning, 22 are heading for Port Said and 14 are heading for Suez.
37 vessels that had been waiting at Great Bitter Lakes since last week have now exited the Canal. Another six that remained at Great Bitter Lakes are due to resume their journey at about 2 PM local time, along with 30 ships which entered the Canal for southbound transit yesterday. This group is expected to start exiting the Canal about three hours later, the Authority added.
The Canal Authority said that convoys in both directions are running round the clock until the backlog of vessels is cleared.
Ever Given, sailing to the Dutch port of Rotterdam, had run aground after being affected by a stand storm and strong winds before entering the Mediterranean in the morning last Tuesday.
The traffic jam caused by the accident in one of the world’s most important and busy waterways left hundreds of vessels, including large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels carrying grain held up at either end of the Suez canal.
Goods worth nearly $10 billion were being held up each day in the strategic trade route, which provides the shortest link between Asia and Europe.
Shipping experts estimate that the effect of the week-long logjam on global shipping could take weeks or even months to resolve.
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