Egypt battles to free ship blocking Suez Canal

Tugboats and a specialized suction dredge are working on Friday to unleash a huge cargo ship that continues to pass through Egypt’s Suez Canal after three days, blocking a crucial pathway for world trade.

The Ever Given, a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship between Asia and Europe, ran aground on Tuesday on the narrow man-made track that separates mainland Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. The vessel was trapped in a single-lane stretch of the canal, approximately six kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern access, near the city of Suez.

The ship, owned by the Japanese company Shoei Kisen KK, has blocked traffic on the canal, causing headaches for global trade.

About 10% of world trade passes through the canal, which is particularly crucial for the transportation of crude. The shutdown could also affect the shipment of crude oil and gas to Europe from the Middle East.

At least 237 vessels are still waiting for the Ever Given to be released, including ships in nearby Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, Port Suez on the Red Sea and those that are previously stranded, said Leth Agencies, which provides services for the channel.

Using data from Automatic Identification System trackers on ships at sea, data firm Refinitiv shared an analysis with The Associated Press showing that more than 300 ships remained on the canal route for the next two weeks.

Some ships are currently able to change course in order to avoid crossing the Suez Canal. The Pan Americas liquid natural gas carrier changed course in the Atlantic Ocean, and is now heading south to circle the southern tip of Africa, according to satellite data released Friday by