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Suez Canal blocked by container ship

A 400m-long container ship has blocked the Suez Canal after running aground sideways due to strong winds.

Shipping containers on the Suez Canal. Credit Oliver Clarke. Pxhere.

The container ship, Ever Given, was on its journey from China to Rotterdam, traversing the canal to ultimately join the Mediterranean.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said that attempts to refloat the ship were already under way, with tugboats and diggers dispatched to the incident.

However, experts warn that Ever Given will most likely be stuck for days, because of the large amount of sand surrounding the vessel that needs to be moved.

Due to the angle and length of the ship, traffic along the canal has come to a halt with lines of ships waiting in both directions.

An older form of the channel has been re-opened by the Egyptian Authorities in the hope of directing traffic and restarting the flow of ships.

The Suez Canal supplies the quickest water link between Europe and Asia and sees 10% of global trade passing through it.

It is 120 miles (193km) long, and passes through the Suez isthmus in Egypt, incorporating three natural lakes on its path.

Satellite image of the southern section of the Suez Canal. Credit Axelspace Corporation. Wikimedia.

Dr Sal Mercogliano, a US based maritime historian, says the current blockage could have “huge ramifications for global trade”.

“This is the largest vessel ever to go aground in the Suez Canal,” he said, remarking that it is most likely the ship has lost its power and ability to steer due to its lodgement in the embankment.

An international supply chain expert at Colliers International, Chris Evans, believes that maritime traffic will also begin being re-routed via the Cape of Good Hope, on Africa’s southern tip, in an effort to avoid transit delays.

“It will cause delays,” he said, “there’s no point railing against it. It’s not welcomed but that’s just the way it is.”

However, Evans believes there should be no major impacts for businesses.

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