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Suez Canal: 24-hour dredging and tugging as Egypt’s president mulls removing Ever Given containers | World News

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Suez Canal salvage teams are alternating between dredging and tugging as they continue to try to dislodge a massive container ship blocking the busy waterway.

Dredgers have so far shifted 27,000 cubic metres of sand, to a depth of 18m (59ft) with work set to continue around the clock.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has ordered preparations for the possible removal of some of the ship’s cargo to help refloat it.

Image:
Experts are dredging the canal and using tugs to try to free it

The 400m (1,312ft) long Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds more than five days ago, halting shipping traffic in one of the world’s busiest waterways.

As of Saturday, 321 boats were waiting to get through the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels.

“There are positive indicators from yesterday and the day before yesterday,” Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman Osama Rabie told Egyptian state TV.

New images of the Ever Given ship stuck in the Suez Canal. Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies
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Satellite image of the waterway which sees about 15% of the world shipping traffic. Pic: Maxar Technologies

“The rudder was not moving and it is now moving, the propeller is working now, there was no water underneath the bow, and now there is water under it, and yesterday there was a four-metre deviation in the bow and the stern.”

However, reports suggest a mass of rock has been found at the bow of the ship, complicating salvage efforts.

Rescue workers from the SCA and a team from Dutch firm Smit Salvage have been investigating whether some of the Ever Given’s 18,300 containers will need to be removed by crane in order to refloat it.

Experts have warned that such a process could be complex and lengthy.

About 15% of world shipping traffic transits the Suez Canal.

Rates for oil product tankers nearly doubled after the ship became stranded, and the blockage has disrupted global supply chains, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

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