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Grounded Suez Canal cargo ship could be stuck for 'weeks'
25 March 2021, 13:57 | Updated: 25 March 2021, 18:02
A vast cargo ship which has ran aground in the Suez Canal could take weeks to move, according to the chief executive of the firm involved in the rescue operation.
The Ever Given is currently sitting like a "beached whale" blocking one of the busiest shipping routes on the planet.
Peter Berdowski, the chief executive of Boskalis, the firm involved in the rescue operation, told Dutch media on Wednesday evening that the shipping container could take weeks to free.
"The more secure the ship is, the longer an operation will take. It can take days to weeks. Bringing in all the equipment we need, that’s not around the corner," he said.
He added: "It is like an enormous beached whale. It’s an enormous weight on the sand. We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand,".
The narrow waterway divides continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula and stopped on Tuesday after the MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship with an owner listed in Japan, got stuck.
Around 12% of the world's trade passes through the waterway, opened in 1869, and figures show around 52 ships a day go through.
Dredgers are attempting to clear mud and sand from underneath it in the hope it will dislodge.
Some goods destined for the UK may be delayed by blockage and experts are ready to assist if required, the UK Government has said.
The UK Government has said it stands ready to provide any help that is required.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are working with the authorities to assess the situation, we stand ready to provide any assistance that we can.
"We have not been approached by any UK companies or organisations with concerns about implications for their shipping plans.
"However, some goods destined for the UK may be delayed in transit."
The 200,000-ton shipping container ran aground on Tuesday so now has entered its third day wedged across the Canal. It can hold around 20,000 containers.
Canal service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for it to be cleared, including vessels near Port Said in the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez in the Red Sea and those already stuck in the canal system on Egypt's Great Bitter Lake.
The Ever Given, built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 meters, or a quarter of a mile, and a width of 193 feet, is among the largest cargo ships in the world.