Suez Canal reopens after giant stranded ship is freed

Traffic has resumed in Egypt’s Suez Canal after a stranded container ship blocking it for nearly a week was finally freed by salvage crews.

Tug boats honked their horns in celebration as the 400m-long (1,300ft) Ever Given was dislodged on Monday with the help of dredgers.

Hundreds of ships are waiting to pass through the canal which links the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch salvage company Boskalis, said the Ever Given had been refloated at 15:05 (13:05 GMT) on Monday, “thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again”.

Egyptian officials say the backlog of ships waiting to transit through should be cleared in around three days, but experts believe the knock-on effect on global shipping could take weeks or even months to resolve.

Salvage teams had faced a daunting challenge after the 200,000-tonne ship ran aground last Tuesday morning in high winds and a sandstorm which reduced visibility.

A Dutch specialist team, SMIT, oversaw a flotilla of 13 tugs, small but powerful vessels that can shift large ships, as they tried to dislodge the Ever Given.

Dredgers were brought in and dug 30,000 cubic metres of mud and sand from beneath the ends of the ship.

Over the weekend, it was feared that some of the ship’s cargo of some 18,000 containers would have to be removed in order to lighten the load.

But high tides helped the tugs and dredgers in their work and early on Monday, the stern (rear of the ship) was freed and the great ship swung across the canal, to shouts of celebration. Hours later, the bow (front) too came unstuck, and the Ever Given was able to move out.

The vessel was towed to the Great Bitter Lake, which sits between two sections of the canal to the north of the salvage site, where it will undergo safety checks. (Courtesy BBC)

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