Suez Canal crisis: Ever Given cargo ship blocking major waterway finally freed

The giant ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal for almost a week has finally been freed.

The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship is pulled by Suez Canal tugboats, in the Suez Canal, Egypt as it is set free (Suez Canal Authority via AP).
The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship is pulled by Suez Canal tugboats, in the Suez Canal, Egypt as it is set free (Suez Canal Authority via AP).

Workers have successfully set free the 400m (1,300ft) container ship, the Ever Given, a canal service provider has said.

The ship has been stuck sideways across the Suez Canal, one of the world's most crucial arteries for trade.

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Leth Agencies said that the vessel had been refloated on Monday.

Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given from the sandy back of the crucial waterway, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday.

Tugboats were pulling the vessel toward the Great Bitter Lake, in the middle of the waterway, where it will undergo inspections.

A partial freeing of the vessel in the earlier hours of Monday morning was greeted by the sound of tugboats in the canal honking their horns in celebration.

Peter Bodowski, CEO of Dutch salvage company Boskalis, said the Ever Given had been refloated at 3.05pm (1.05pm GMT) on Monday, “thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again.”

The vessel has been towed to a location outside the channel for further inspection.

As a result of the ship blockage, companies were forced to reroute ships, causing huge tailbacks of hundreds of vessels.

Despite the freeing of the Ever Given, clearing the backlog of ships waiting to pass through the canal would take over 10 days, according to data firm Refinitiv.

According to Lloyds List, there are currently more than 370 ships waiting to pass through the canal.

With canal transits stopped, Egypt has already lost over 95 million US dollars in revenue, added Refinitiv.

However, even as salvage work was still ongoing, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi portrayed the development as a victory in his first comments on the stranded vessel.

"Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis," he wrote on Facebook.

Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed that the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the centre of the artery.

At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, have piled up on either end of the canal, waiting to pass.

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