Blockade of ship on Suez Canal under investigation

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Experts are examining how a colossal cargo ship got stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, where the ship blocked traffic and disrupted billions of dollars in international trade for nearly a week.

While the Ever Given, which is about as long as the Empire State Building is tall, was released on Monday and traffic has since resumed in the canal that connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, it is still unclear not what didn’t work.

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Experts boarded the massive ship on Tuesday as it idled in Egypt’s great bitter lake, just north of the site where it had blocked the canal and disrupted billions of dollars a day in maritime trade.

A senior canal pilot, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, told The Associated Press that experts were looking for signs of damage and trying to determine why the ship had run aground.

The cargo ship MV Ever Given was released on Monday in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt.  Experts are now investigating what caused the massive ship to run aground.  (© Maxar Technologies via AP)
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The cargo ship MV Ever Given was released on Monday in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt. Experts are now investigating what caused the massive ship to run aground. (© Maxar Technologies via AP)

The ship’s owner, the Japanese company Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., said on Tuesday that he would be part of the investigation along with other parties, although he did not identify them by name. He also declined to discuss factors that could have caused the grounding, including the ship’s speed and high winds, saying he could not comment on an ongoing investigation.

The company said any damage to the vessel was believed to be primarily on its keel. He said it was not immediately clear whether the ship would be repaired on the spot in Egypt or elsewhere, or whether it would eventually head to its original destination, Rotterdam. It’s a decision that must be made by its operator, rather than the shipowner, the company said.

The vessel is operated by a Taiwanese shipper.

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Even as traffic began to flow through the canal again, a canal service provider said more than 300 vessels carrying everything from crude oil to livestock are still waiting their turn in a process that will take days.

Analysts predict it could take at least another 10 days to clear the backlog – although Egypt’s president said on Tuesday it would only take three. Losses suffered by shippers, as well as any physical damage to the vessel itself, will likely result in legal action.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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