Massive cargo ship wedged sideways in Suez Canal, blocking crucial trading route

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In 2015, the Suez Canal underweight an $8.5 billion expansion to accommodate the ships and to set-up a two-way traffic headed both north and south - but its owners never envisioned one of those mega-ships blocking the whole route, experts said.

Traffic through the busy waterway was reportedly blocked in both directions by the 400-metre long and 59 metre-wide cargo ship.

The Ever Given (owned by the company Evergreen) is jammed in the Suez Canal.

"When a vessel runs aground Suez Canal officials are alone empowered to order and direct all operations required to get the vessel afloat", according to the Suez Canal Authority Rules of Navigation. Several tugs have been on scene for several hours working to dislodge the ship.

Shipping agent GAC reports that the grounding occurred at 7:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday (March 23) at kilometer 151 after the vessel suffered a black out while transiting.

The blockage of the Suez Canal by a giant container vessel is likely to send ripples of disruption through the global energy supply chain. Meteorologists said high winds and a sandstorm had plagued the area on Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 31mph.

"All crew are safe and accounted for", said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given.

"Right after they ran aground the ship behind us lost power and nearly hit us", she wrote on Instagram.

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The incident could have a major knock-on effect for global shipping moving between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, according to Salvatore R Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina's Campbell University.

He said: "Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south".

"From the looks of it that ship is super stuck", she said in a comment.

Built in 2018 with a length of almost 400 metres (1,312ft) and a width of 59 metres (193ft), it is one of the largest cargo ships in the world.

The Suez Canal provides passage for 10% of all worldwide maritime trade.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unveiled plans in 2015 for an expansion created to reduce waiting times and double the number of ships using the canal daily by 2023.

The incident Tuesday marks just the latest to affect mariners amid the pandemic. Meanwhile, demands on shipping have increased, adding to the pressure on exhausted sailors, Mercogliano said.

But Macau said he expects that the Ever Given will be back on its way within a day or two - a timeline that wouldn't noticeably impact global shipping.

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