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No timeline given for moving wedged ship from Suez Canal

By AP News | March 29th 2021
The container ship remained stuck sideways for the sixth day. [Courtesy]

A giant container ship remained stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a sixth day yesterday, as authorities made new attempts to free the vessel and reopen a crucial waterway whose blockage is disrupting global shipping and trade.

Meanwhile, the head of the Suez Canal Authority said strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground on Tuesday, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei told a news conference on Saturday that an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

The massive Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck in a single-lane stretch of the canal, about six kilometres (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez. Mr Rabei said he could not predict when the ship might be dislodged.

A Dutch salvage firm is attempting to refloat the vessel with tugboats and dredgers, taking advantage of high tides.

Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: “I can’t say because I do not know.” Shoei Kisen, the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

Two attempts to free the vessel failed Saturday, according to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the ship’s management company, and a canal services provider, Leth agencies, despite hopes that a high tide might give the vesslela boost.

Bernhard Schulte had said earlier that “significant progress” was made late Friday at the ship’s stern where its rudder was released from sediment. It said around a dozen tugboats were working Saturday alongside dredging operations that were removing sand and mud from around the left side of the vessel’s bow.

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Some 9,000 tons of ballast water had been already removed from the vessel, the canal chairman said. 

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