A cargo container ship that’s among the largest in the world has turned sideways and blocked all traffic in Egypt’s Suez Canal, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship that carries trade between Asia and Europe, became grounded Tuesday in the narrow, man-made waterway dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula.
It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the Ever Given to turn sideways in the canal. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, described the Ever Given as suffering “a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction,” without elaborating.
Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.
A Egyptian official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists similarly blamed a strong wind in the area for the incident. Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (31 mph).
“All crew are safe and accounted for,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given. “There have been no reports of injuries or pollution.”
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. Several tug boats surrounded the ship, likely attempting to push it the right way, the data showed.
An image posted to Instagram by a user on another waiting cargo ship appeared to showed the Ever Given wedged across the canal as shown in the satellite data.
The Egyptian official said tugboats hoped to refloat the ship and that the operation would take at least two days. The ship ran aground some 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southernly mouth of the canal near the city of Suez, an area of the canal that’s a single lane.
That could have a major knock-on effect for global shipping moving between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, warned Salvatore R. Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University.
“Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south,” Mercogliano told the AP. “Every day the canal is closed … container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to Europe and goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.”
Canal authorities could not be immediately reached by the AP early Wednesday.
The Ever Given had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands prior to getting stuck in the canal. The ship, built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 meters (a quarter mile) and a width of 59 meters (193 feet), is among the largest cargo ships in the world. It can carry some 20,000 containers at a time.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West. Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, the Ever Given ran aground before that new portion of the canal.
The incident Tuesday marks just the latest to affect mariners amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have been stuck aboard vessels due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, demands on shipping have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors, Mercogliano said.
“It’s because of the breakneck pace of global shipping right now and shipping is on a very tight schedule,” he said. “Add to it that mariners have not been able to get on and off vessels because of COVID restrictions.”
- Korle-Bu doctor poisons colleague’s water with HIV blood
- NSMQ 2021: 3-man Sandema SHTS team without supporters, books place in final U/E qualifiers
- #FixTheCountry: Convenors of protest disappointed in Supreme Court over hearing scheduled for June
- EC must review processes leading to 2020 election results collation – Akoto Ampaw
- National security cloned #FixTheCountry protester’s mobile phone – Baker-Vormawor alleges
- Prince Misizulu named next Zulu king amid family feud
- 20 arrested in Atewa forest aren’t national security operatives – Oppong Nkrumah
- Ghana loses $200m to untapped online forex trading market
- Blunt and Blay: Real reason why the Church won’t allow a Muslim student to fast in a ‘Mission School’
- Akufo-Addo has not lived up to expectation – Kofi Bentil
May 9 stadium disaster: Persons With Disabilities join in 20th anniversary celebration
#FixTheCountry: Injunction obtained by police was in order – Attorney General
Asantehene marks 71st birthday with May 9 remembrance
Some of the taxes imposed on citizens are a nuisance – Kofi Bentil
Pastor Allen Caiquo releases ‘Finally’ ahead of ‘Priest & King’ EP
#FixTheCountry organisers exhibited ‘bad faith’ during National Security meeting – Godfred Dame
Blaq Jerzee recruits Marioo, Eddy Kenzo on ’Sokoma’ track
13 types of guys who stay single and don’t ever find lasting love
Blunt and Blay: Real reason why the Church won’t allow a Muslim student to fast in a ‘Mission School’
I have no regrets participating in ‘OccupyFlagstaffHouse’ protest – Kofi Bentil
Neymar signs new Paris St-Germain contract
National security cloned #FixTheCountry protester’s mobile phone – Baker-Vormawor alleges
Akufo-Addo has not lived up to expectation – Kofi Bentil
Doubts over venue for Champions League final between Chelsea and Man City as Turkey added to red list
Covid-19: GHS Director of Health Promotion advises against #FixTheCountry demonstration