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Massive container ship blocks Suez Canal

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A giant container ship has blocked the Suez Canal in Egypt, tracking websites showed on Wednesday, bringing marine traffic to a shuddering halt along one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

A photo posted on Tuesday showed the Taiwan-owned MV Evergreen, a 400-metre-long and 59-metre-wide vessel, lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway as excavation trucks struggled to dig it out.

Shipping website Vessel Finder said the ship was bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and it is unclear why it had stopped moving.

Over 150 years old, the Suez Canal is one of the world’s most important trade routes, providing passage for 10% of all international maritime trade, including crude oil shipments.

Nearly 19,000 ships passed through it last year with a total tonnage of 1.17 billion, according to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).

It has been a boon for Egypt’s struggling economy in recent years, with the country earning US$5.61 billion in revenues from the canal last year.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi unveiled plans in 2015 for an expansion designed to reduce waiting times and double the number of ships using the canal daily by 2023.

In February, Sisi ordered his cabinet to adopt a “flexible marketing policy” for the canal in order to cope with the economic downturn caused by Covid-19.

Egyptian authorities were yet to comment on the incident.

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