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A Giant Container Ship Got Stuck In Egypt’s Suez Canal And It’s Causing A Massive International Trade Crisis

A massive container ship that got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal almost a week ago is causing a massive international trade crisis, blocking more than 300 ships stuck on either side along one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes.

The Ever Given, one of the world’s largest container ships that is more than 400 meters (1,300 feet) long and weighs up to 200,000 tons, ran aground due to high winds from a sandstorm on Tuesday Mar. 23 and ended up blocking nearly the entire width of the canal.

The traffic jam is now holding nearly US $10 billion of goods in trade a day, according to shipping data, the BBC reported.

Maxar's WorldView-3 collected new high-resolution satellite imagery of the Suez canal and the container ship (EVER GIVEN) that remains stuck in the canal north of the city of Suez, Egypt photo.
Maxar’s WorldView-3 collected new high-resolution satellite imagery of the Suez canal and the container ship (EVER GIVEN) that remains stuck in the canal north of the city of Suez, Egypt. (Photo by Satellite image (c) 2021 Maxar Technologies)

The Suez Canal separates Africa from the Middle East and Asia is one of the busiest trade routes in the world, with about 12% of total global trade moving through it, according to the New York Times.

International efforts to free the boat are ongoing but have so far been unsuccessful, with international salvage teams trying to refloat the ship with tug boats and digging it free from the sandy banks where it got stuck.

The 400m-long container ship blocked the Suez Canal as it was knocked off course during a sandstorm while en route from China to Rotterdam, Netherlands photo.
The 400m-long container ship blocked the Suez Canal as it was knocked off course during a sandstorm while en route from China to Rotterdam, Netherlands. The container ship became wedged across the Suez Canal completely blocking the path of other vessels. (Photo by Roscosmos Press Office\TASS via Getty Images)

On Friday, salvagers were able to free the ship’s rudder and get the engines to start rolling, but were still unsuccessful in freeing the ship.

“We were hoping for a big push, but the tide was very low,” the chief of the Suez Canal Authority said at a news conference on Saturday.

On Saturday, 14 tugboats were able to move the ship “30 degrees from left and right” along with effort attempts to dig it out of the banks where it got trapped, the Suez Canal Authority said.

A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority shows a part of the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal photo.
A handout picture released by the Suez Canal Authority shows a part of the Taiwan-owned MV Ever Given (Evergreen), a 400-metre- (1,300-foot-) long and 59-metre wide vessel, lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt’s Suez Canal. (Photo by Suez Canal Authority/HO/AFP via Getty Images)

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has called for preparations to lighten the ship’s load by transferring some of the containers to another vessel or to the canal bank, according to the BBC.

However, experts say that thousands of containers would need to be unloaded and the operation could take weeks, the Guardian reported.

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