Suez authority still unsure when vessel will be freed
Egypt orders cargo lightening
Published: Mar 28, 2021 07:33 PM
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered preparations for the lightening of cargo on a giant container ship grounded in the Suez Canal, head of the canal's authority told Egypt's Extra News on Sunday.

This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, on Saturday. Photo: VCG

This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, on Saturday. Photo: VCG

Efforts to dislodge a giant container ship blocking the Suez Canal have allowed its stern and rudder to move, but it remains unclear when the vessel will be refloated, head of the canal authority said on Saturday. 

The 400-meter-long Ever Given became wedged diagonally across a southern section of the canal amid high winds early on Tuesday, blocking one of the world's busiest waterways. A combination of dredging material from around the ship and pulling and pushing the vessel with tugboats made minor progress in dislodging the ship on Saturday, two SCA sources said. One source said there had been some movement at the bow of the ship.

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie told local TV that water had started running underneath the ship. "We expect that at any time the ship could slide and move from the spot it is in," he told a press conference earlier.

About 15 percent of world shipping traffic transits the canal and hundreds of vessels are waiting to pass once the blockage has been cleared.

Rabie said he hoped it would not be necessary to remove some of the 18,300 containers on board to lighten the ship's load, but strong tides and winds were complicating efforts to free it. "The ship's stern began [on Friday] to move towards Suez, and that was a positive sign until 11 pm (2100 GMT) at night, but the tide fell significantly and we stopped," Rabie told journalists in Suez.

Dredgers removed some 20,000 tons of sand from around its bow by Friday. A Dutch firm working to free the vessel said it could be freed by the start of next week if heavier tugboats, dredging and a high tide succeed in dislodging it.

Tugging attempts restarted on Saturday afternoon and further efforts were planned for Sunday, though SCA sources added that more sand may need to be removed.
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