A large shipping container has blocked Egypt’s Suez Canal, causing a traffic jam of ships, vessel tracking websites show.
The ship, called Ever Given, ran aground in the narrow shipping channel around 7.40am on Tuesday, according to reports.
Several tugs have surrounded the vessel, operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, in a bid to move it.
An official reportedly told local news outlet Cairo24 that the process could take up to two days.
According to shipping company GAC, the 400-metre long ship suffered a blackout when it was travelling northwards in a convoy.
Around 15 ships are said to be stuck behind Ever Given, while the southbound part of the canal is also blocked.
Evergreen Marine said a strong wind had likely forced the boat aground.
The company said the shipowner told them Ever Given “was suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate from waterway and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground”.
The three-year-old cargo ship, which is registered in Panama, was on its way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, from China, when it became stuck.
The busy Egyptian shipping lane connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, and is the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe.
Julianne Cona, who is on the vessel behind – the American-registered Maersk Denver – said the Ever Given was stuck sideways.
On Instagram she wrote: “Ship in front of us ran aground while going through the canal and is now stuck sideways looks like we might be here for a little bit.”
The waterway, which is around 193km (120 miles) long, was built by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869 – officially opening in 1869.
About 12% of the world trade volume passes through it, making it one of the world’s busiest waterways.
Nearly 19,000 ships, or an average of 51.5 ships per day, with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes passed through the
canal during 2020, to according to the Suez Canal Authority.
Evergreen Marine said: “The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the accident and to work out a plan with related units such as the canal administration to assist the ship in getting out of trouble as soon as possible.”
(c) Sky News 2021: Egypt: Suez Canal blocked by huge container ship which ran aground