Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered that the shipping containers should be removed from the huge Ever Given ship currently trapped in the Suez Canal.
Since Tuesday, March 23, the enormous ship has been blocking the busy trade route between Asia and Africa, costing the global economy an estimated $400 million for every hour it remains stuck there.
Efforts to dislodge the ship have so far failed, with dredgers shifting more than 27,000 cubic metres of sand to a depth of 18 metres, in a desperate attempt to set the vessel free.
Now al-Sissi has been left with no choice but to order preparations to unload the ship’s cargo in an attempt to help refloat the boat, according to a statement from the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), as per Reuters.
SCA Chairman Osama Rabie is reported to have told Egyptian state TV:
There are positive indicators from yesterday and the day before yesterday.
The rudder was not moving and it is now moving, the propeller is working now, there was no water underneath the bow, and now there is water under it, and yesterday there was a 4-metre deviation in the bow and the stern.
However, a mass of rock was later found at the bow of the ship, bringing the progress to a screeching halt.
The ship weighs an eye-watering 200,000 metric tons and can carry a total of 20,000 containers; something that those working on recovering the boat say is stopping it from being able to be freed.
The Ever Given initially became stuck as a result of high winds, with more than 321 boats now stuck waiting to transit the canal.
John Denholm, president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, has warned it could take a number of weeks to eventually remove the vessel, at great cost to the global economy.
‘If we go through the lightering process, I suspect we’re talking weeks,’ he told the BBC, noting that removing the cargo will require a crane that can stretch more than 200 feet high.
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Published7 hours ago Share The Ever Given container ship in the Suez Canal, Egypt, on 27 March 2021 IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS image captionTugboats managed to move the Ever Given 30 degrees in both directions, but it is still stuck A giant container ship remains stuck across Egypt's Suez Canal after attempts to dislodge it on Saturday's high tide failed. Canal officials said however that some progress had been made, and that they hoped the ship could be afloat again by Sunday evening. The Ever Given has been wedged in the canal - one of the world's busiest trade routes - since Tuesday. More than 300 ships are stuck on either side of the blockage. Some vessels have had to reroute around Africa. On Saturday about 20,000 tonnes of sand was dredged, and 14 tugboats pulled and pushed the Ever Given in order to try to dislodge it. Although strong tides and winds complicated efforts to free the ship, the tugboats managed to move it 30 degrees in two directions. Footage posted on Twitter appeared to show the tugboats honking their horns to celebrate this small victory. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. View original tweet on Twitter 1px transparent line General Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said that water had started running underneath the vessel. "We expect that at any time the ship could slide and move from the spot it is in," he told a press conference. He added that he hoped it wouldn't be necessary to remove any of the 18,300 containers on board to lighten the ship's load. Canal authorities previously said they would send in more tugboats if Saturday's attempts failed. 'Our customers are worried about the Suez blockage' How do you refloat a giant cargo ship? In pictures: Efforts to shift huge ship from canal Initial reports said the 400m-long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne vessel ran aground due to high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility. However, Mr Rabie said weather conditions were "not the main reasons" for the ship's grounding. "There may have been technical or human errors," he told reporters, without giving details. "All of these factors will become apparent in the investigation." Satellite image shows the stuck container ship 'Ever Given' on the Suez Canal, in Egypt, on March 27, 2021 IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES image captionDredgers and tugs are trying to free the ship The Ever Given is operated by the Taiwanese firm Evergreen Marine and owned by Shoei Kisen of Japan. Yukito Higaki, president of Shoei Kisen, said on Friday that the ship did not appear to be damaged. "The ship is not taking water. Once it refloats, it should be able to operate," he said. What is the back-up plan? If digging the sand away and pulling the ship with tugs fails to move it, Mr Rabie said rescue teams might have to remove some containers. John Denholm, president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, earlier told the BBC that transferring the cargo to another vessel or the canal bank would involve bringing in specialist equipment, including a crane that would need to stretch more than 60m (200ft) high. "If we go through the lightering process, I suspect we're talking weeks," he said. media captionA salvage company, working to free the Ever Given, says the operation could take weeks Why is the Suez Canal so important? About 12% of global trade passes through the 193km (120-mile) canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. An alternative route, around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, can take two weeks longer. According to data from Lloyd's List, the blockage is holding up an estimated $9.6bn (£7bn) of goods each day - or $400m an hour. Mr Rabie estimated that Egypt was losing up to $14m in revenue each day that the canal was closed. He said Egypt was grateful to the US, China and the United Arab Emirates for offers of help. Map showing alternative route for shipping while Suez Canal blocked 1px transparent line Related Topics Mediterranean Sea Shipping industry Egypt Global trade Suez canal More on this story 'Our customers are worried about the Suez blockage' Published1 day ago Suez Canal: ‘Delays to shipping for next few days’ Published3 days ago Why the Suez Canal matters - in 60 secs Published6 August 2015 Egypt opens Suez Canal expansion Published6 August 2015
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