Efforts on to fully tow giant cargo ship stranded in Suez Canal; Indian crew members safe

Cairo: Dredgers have joined efforts to completely refloat the giant container ship Ever Given grounded in the Suez Canal for over two days to free the waterway for other ships, Gulf Agency Company (GAC), the leading shipping and logistics company operating the canal, said on Thursday.

The entire crew of 25 Indians of the ship is safe, said the company managing the container.

As of Wednesday, the operator said that the ship was partially refloated and placed alongside the Canal bank. 

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As per media reports, the ship along with the Indian crew had two pilots from Egypt’s canal authority aboard the vessel to guide it when the grounding happened around 7:45 am on Tuesday.

Earlier on Thursday, a source in the company told Sputnik that the waterway — one of the world’s busiest trade routes — was still blocked and the rescue operation involving eight tugs to refloat the 400-meter (1,312-foot) ship was underway.

“Efforts are continuing today (25 March) to completely refloat the container vessel that ran aground on Tuesday, bringing Suez Canal transits to a halt. Two dredgers have now been sent to assist the operation, which is still ongoing,” the GAC said in a press release.

The 224,000-tonne Ever Given got stranded on Tuesday morning while on the way from China to the Dutch port city of Rotterdam after losing the ability to steer due to strong winds and a dust storm.

The incident completely blocked the traffic along the waterway delaying dozens of ships carrying different products from oil to consumer goods, as they were forced to re-route or wait for their turn to enter the canal.

The blockage of the canal, the shortest sea route between Asia and Europe through which about 12 per cent of global trade passes, triggered a rally of oil prices in international markets, as multiple oil tankers were reportedly affected by the disruptions.

 “At the time of the incident, the Ever Given was transiting northbound through the canal en route to Rotterdam, the Netherlands with two canal pilots onboard. Initial investigations suggest the vessel grounded due to strong wind,” Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said in a statement.

 “All 25 crew are safe and accounted for. There have been no reports of injuries, pollution or cargo damage and initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding,” the statement said.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement, cited by CNN said the container ship almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and ran aground on March 23 after being caught in 40-knot winds and a sandstorm that caused low visibility and poor navigation.

Authorities attempt to re-float the vessel on Thursday morning were not successful and according to Bernhard Schulte, the vessel’s technical manager, another attempt will be made later on Thursday.

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