Suez Canal: Enormous haulage queues develop after crucial waterway blocked by large cargo ship

A cargo ship has turned sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping.

Traffic on the narrow waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula stopped on Tuesday after the MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship with an owner listed in Japan, got stuck.

It was not immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to turn sideways in the canal.

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GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, described the Ever Given as suffering "a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction," without elaborating.

The Ever Given's bow was 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.

Evergreen could not immediately be reached for comment, though Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency quoted unidentified company sources as saying the ship had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.

The Ever Given, built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 metres and a width of 59 metres, is among the largest cargo ships in the world.

A cargo ship has turned sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping. (Photo by Christos GOULIAMAKIS / AFP)

An image posted to Instagram by a user on another waiting cargo ship appeared to showed the Ever Given wedged across the canal.

The ship appeared to be stuck 3.7 miles north of the southern mouth of the canal near the city of Suez.

Cargo ships and oil tankers appeared to be lining up at the southern end of the Suez Canal, waiting to be able to pass through the waterway to the Mediterranean Sea, according to MarineTraffic data.

Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West.

Traffic on the narrow waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula stopped on Tuesday after the MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship with an owner listed in Japan, got stuck. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

Around 10 per cent of the world's trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt's top foreign currency earners.

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