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29.03.2021 Europe

Suez Canal reopens to traffic as stuck supertanker finally floats off

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI
LISTEN MAR 29, 2021

The cargo vessel which has been blocking the Suez Canal for the past six days was re-floated on the Monday morning high tide. Traffic in the strategically crucial trade corridor has now been resumed.

The ship, the Japanese-owned Ever Given, was refloated Monday and the Suez Canal reopened to traffic, almost a week after the megaship got stuck, the Suez Canal Authority said as local TV images showed the container ship moving slowly up the canal.

"Admiral Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority, has announced the resumption of shipping traffic in the Suez Canal," the SCA said in a statement, shortly after shipping sites had showed the supertanker once more diagonally blocking the waterway.

Television footage showed tugboat crews sounding their foghorns in celebration after the Ever Given, a cargo megaship the length of four football fields, was dislodged from the banks of the Suez.

The breakthrough followed what appeared to be a setback and came moments after the ship had temporarily settled back into the diagonal position it had been stuck in after running aground last Tuesday.

Maritime data company Lloyd's List said the blockage had held up an estimated 11 billion euros worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe.

By the end of the drama, 425 ships were blocked at the two ends of the canal, in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.