Suez Canal: Blocked ship could be refloated in hours

A giant container ship that has been blocking Egypt’s Suez Canal for days could be refloated on Saturday, the vessel’s Japanese owner has said.

Traffic in the canal remained suspended as authorities worked to free one of the world’s largest freight ships which has run aground in the vital shipping route.

The ship, the Ever Given, has been wedged diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.

“The ship is not taking water. There is no problem with its rudders and propellers. Once it refloats, it should be able to operate. We are continuing work to remove sediment as of now, with additional dredging tools,” said Yukito Higaki, president of Shoei Kisen KK, which owns the ship.

“We apologize for blocking the traffic and causing tremendous trouble and worry to many people, including the involved parties,” he added.

The blockage has caused a huge traffic jam of more than 200 ships along the 193-kilometer (120-mile) canal, and caused major delays in the delivery of oil and other products.

The ship’s technical manager, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said an earlier attempt to refloat the ship had failed.

Dutch firm Smit Salvage confirmed there would be “two additional tugs” arriving by Sunday to assist, it added.

Crews have been working overnight with large dredging machines under floodlights, but the ship — the size of the Empire State Building in New York — has not budged yet.

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