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Suez Canal: Ships stuck in ‘traffic jam’ as salvage efforts continue

6 hours ago

Ships anchored outside the Suez Canal at Ain
                Shokhna, Egypt (26 March 2021)
image captionMore than 230 ships are waiting to enter the Suez Canal, through which all navigation has been suspended

The blockage of Egypt’s Suez canal by a giant container ship is causing a “traffic jam” in the Red Sea, according to a merchant seaman on a nearby ship.

Joe Reynolds, chief engineer of the Maersk Ohio, told the BBC the number of vessels waiting at the canal’s southern entrance was “growing exponentially”.

“It’s going to affect shipping schedules around the world,” he warned.

Tugboats and dredgers are trying to dislodge the Ever Given, which is wedged diagonally across the waterway.

The 400m-long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne vessel ran aground on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility.

Specialist salvage companies have been brought in to help refloat the ship, and an adviser to Egypt’s president has said he hopes the situation will be resolved within two to three days. But experts have said it could take weeks if the vessel’s containers need to be removed.

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.

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