Vast container ship blocking Suez Canal is finally freed

29 March 2021, 14:32 | Updated: 29 March 2021, 17:27

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The vast container ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal has been set free nearly a week after it became stuck.

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Canal service provider Leth Agencies said the 400m-long (1,300ft), 224,000-tonne Ever Given was refloated on Monday afternoon.

A flotilla of tugboats freed the vessel after it became wedged across the canal, one of the world's busiest trade routes, last Tuesday.

READ MORE: Ever Given container ship blocking Suez Canal for a week 'partially refloated'

READ MORE: Suez Canal blocked as 200,000-ton container ship runs aground

It is not clear when traffic in the canal can fully resume.

The ship is being pulled along the middle of the waterway towards the Great Bitter Lake, where it will undergo inspections.

About 30,000 cubic meters of sand was dredged and 11 harbour tugs and two powerful seagoing tugs were used in the rescue, according to Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch salvage company Boskalis.

Tugboats work to try and free the Ever Given
Tugboats work to try and free the Ever Given. Picture: PA

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi hailed the efforts of Egyptians in "ending the crisis" despite the “massive technical complexity” of the operation.

Earlier on Monday, Leth Agencies said salvage teams had "partially refloated" the ship.

The breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull it with tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at high tide.

The Ever Green ran aground on Tuesday morning during high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility, and has caused long tailbacks of hundreds of vessels since.

Richard Meade, of Lloyd's List, earlier told LBC's Nick Ferrari that several months'-worth of disruption had been caused.

"You're actually looking at several months'-worth of disruption simply because most of the major shipping companies decided over the weekend that it was taking too long and had already started rerouting vessels around the southern tip of Africa," he said.