A massive container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the important waterway for more than a day.
The Suez Canal Authority said the 400-meter-long ship, called Ever Given, got stuck Tuesday morning after facing high winds and a dust storm. Experts said that had never happened before in the canal’s 150-year history.
By mid-afternoon on Wednesday, Reuters reported that officials were still working to free the ship. The news agency got the information from GAC, a Dubai-based shipping services company.
Pictures published on social media appeared to show the ship positioned across the full width of the canal. Others from the canal authority showed digging equipment on the shore removing dirt and rock that blocked the ship’s path.
The Panama-registered ship transports goods between Asia and Europe. Evergreen Marine Corporation is a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship. It said in a statement that Ever Given had been hit by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea, but none of its containers had sunk.
The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. About 30 percent of the world’s container ship traffic passes through the waterway each day.
GAC said in a message on its website that shipping traffic was expected to restart as soon as Ever Given can be moved to another position.
About 30 ships waited at Egypt's Great Bitter Lake midway on the canal, The Associated Press reported. The report was based on information from canal service provider Leth Agencies. In addition, about 40 waited in the Mediterranean near Port Said, while another 30 at were stopped at Suez on the Red Sea.
Among the ships were at least seven carrying around 5 million barrels of crude oil, financial data company Refinitiv said.
The company that manages the ship, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said it is investigating the incident. It added that all 20 crew members were safe and it had "no reports of injuries or pollution.” The company also said the ship never lost power.
Each day, an average of 50 ships pass through the canal, said Salvatore Mercogliano, a professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University.
"Every day the canal is closed ... container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to Europe,” he told the AP. “And goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.”
Security experts also warned that ships stuck in the Red Sea could be targets after a series of attacks against shipping in the Mideast as tensions rose between the United States and Iran.
Shipping data company Dryad Global warned that all ships should consider establishing a higher alert level if forced to remain in the area for an extended period.
Oil prices rose more than 2 percent Wednesday as news of the blockage led to concerns over supply. Industry experts said the effects of the incident on oil and gas flows will depend on how long it takes to reopen the canal.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Reuters and The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
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Words in This Story
manage – v. to have control of something, such as a business, department, organization, etc.
alert – n. a warning about a possibly dangerous situation