Suez Canal shipping backlog ends but probe continues

Stranded container ship Ever Given one of the world's largest container ships is seen after it ran aground in Suez Canal Egypt. — Reuters

Stranded container ship Ever Given one of the world's largest container ships is seen after it ran aground in Suez Canal Egypt. — Reuters

While the canal authority said that the Suez Canal is operating in full capacity and around the clock, the crisis saw 422 ships stranded in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea when the 200,000-tonne Ever Green, which is capable of carrying 20,000 shipping containers, became wedged across the Suez on 23 March.

A shipping backlog of more than 400 ships was caused by the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal.

The last ships stranded by the grounding of a giant container vessel in the Suez Canal have passed through the waterway, according to the canal authority, which said an investigation into the incident would report its findings soon.

A total of 422 ships have passed through the canal since the skyscraper-sized Ever Given was freed on March 29, after it blocked the canal for nearly a week, capturing worldwide attention to the global shipping industry.

Around 10% of total global trade passes through the canal, and the blockage cost as much as $10 billion daily in lost trade.

"This proves the global maritime community has great faith in the Suez Canal and Egypt's ability to guarantee safety and security to different types of vessels", Rabie was quoted in a statement.

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The unprecedented shutdown, which raised fears of extended delays, goods shortages and rising costs for consumers, added to strain on the shipping industry, already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese-owned ship was re-floated successfully on 29 March.

The Ever Given and its cargo are now in the Great Bitter Lake, roughly halfway along the canal.

The majority of those ships - about 60 - had been waiting to pass through since the Ever Given had been freed.

Egypt is expecting more than $1.4 billion in compensation, according to the top canal official.

Besides the 61 ships that are set to cross today, Egypt will also receive 24 new ships that will cross the canal after navigation was restored, Rabie added. He warned that the ship and its some $3.5bn worth of cargo will not be allowed to leave the country if the issue goes to court.

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