Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Suez Canal blocked as 200,000-ton container ship runs aground
24 March 2021, 07:27 | Updated: 24 March 2021, 10:57
A large shipping container has ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking one of the busiest shipping routes on the planet.
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.
Several tug boats have surrounded the ship trying to move it, although it is estimated the massive vessel could take two days to move.
In the meantime, a traffic jam is piling up on both sides of the 120 mile-long canal.
Around 12% of the world's trade passes through the waterway, opened in 1869, and figures show around 52 ships a day go through.
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.
Evergreen Marine said a strong wind had likely forced the boat aground.
A spokesperson said the ship owner told them it "was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground".
The three-year-old Ever Given is nearly 400 metres and 59 metres wide, making it among the largest cargo ships in the world.
It was travelling from China to the Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it became stuck.
You know that feeling when you stall at the lights and hold up traffic? This is a bit like that. A big boat is stuck in the Suez Canal and the queue is quite something. https://t.co/UZRiM6K98u pic.twitter.com/hSj4oR9AtP— Jack Stilgoe (@Jackstilgoe) March 23, 2021
Julianne Cona, who is on the ship behind, posted a picture to Instagram showing the vessel stuck sideways across the canal.
She wrote: "Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways looks like we might be here for a little bit."
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.