‘Traffic jam’ at Suez Canal as salvage of container ship continues

Posted on

‘Traffic jam’ at Suez Canal as salvage of container ship continues
More than 230 ships are waiting to enter the Suez Canal, through which all navigation has been suspended. (EPA)

Cairo – The blockage of Egypt’s Suez Canal by a giant container ship is causing a “traffic jam” in the Red Sea, according to a merchant seaman on a nearby ship.

Joe Reynolds, chief engineer of the Maersk Ohio, told the BBC the number of vessels waiting at the canal’s southern entrance was “growing exponentially”.

“It’s going to affect shipping schedules around the world,” he warned.

Tugboats and dredgers are trying to dislodge the Ever Given, which is wedged diagonally across the waterway.

The 400m-long (1 300ft), 200 000-tonne vessel ran aground on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility.

Specialist salvage companies have been brought in to help refloat the ship, and an adviser to Egypt’s president has said he hopes the situation will be resolved within two to three days. But experts have said it could take weeks if the vessel’s containers need to be removed.

About 12 per cent of global trade passes through the 193km (120-mile) canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.

An alternative route, around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, can take two weeks longer.

Reynolds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Maersk Ohio, a US-flagged container ship that is 292m long and weighs 50 000 tonnes, was “stacked up” alongside dozens of others vessels near Port Suez.

“I think you can imagine there was a queue of ships waiting to go through to begin with, and now that queue has just grown exponentially,” he said. “Standing outside, as you look, everywhere around you is ships.” (BBC)

‘Traffic jam’ at Suez Canal as salvage of container ship continues
A salvage company, working to free the Ever Given, says the operation could take weeks. (BBC)