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CAIRO (dpa-AFX) – After days of efforts to uncover the container ship in the Suez Canal, workers are preparing for a possible partial unloading of the “Ever Given”. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered appropriate preparations. That said Admiral Usama Rabi, chairman of the canal authority, the Egyptian TV station Extra News on Sunday. The pressure on those responsible is increasing because more than 300 ships are waiting to pass and the economic damage continues to grow.
According to the service provider Inchcape Shipping, the 400-meter-long ship, which is roughly the size of the Empire State Building in New York, has so far been moved 29 meters. On Sunday, two more tugs registered in the Netherlands and Italy were expected to support the canal. This was announced by the company Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), which is responsible for the technical management of the “Ever Given”. The rudder of the container ship has therefore already been freed.
The ship of a Japanese owner was on its way to Rotterdam when it ran aground while crossing the canal with two pilots on board on Tuesday. According to initial investigations, the cause was “strong wind”, said BSM. Admiral Rabi, however, ruled out that the wind and the sandstorm alone could lead to the accident. “Human error” or a technical defect could not be ruled out either.
An attempt to lift hundreds of containers from the ship with a crane, for example, and thus reduce its load, would take days or even weeks. It would be a logistical challenge to unload the large-capacity containers, which weigh tons, from a height of almost 60 meters in the middle of the desert and without the infrastructure of a port. The “Ever Given” can transport up to 18,000 containers.
Due to the blockade that lasted for days, Egypt is losing important income. In 2020, the Canal Authority earned around $ 5.6 billion from the transit of 18,800 ships. The shipping companies Hapag-Lloyd (Hamburg), CMA CGM (France), MSC (Italy / Switzerland) and HMM (South Korea) announced that they will divert a total of 22 ships via the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. Rabi defended the Suez Canal on Sunday against criticism after the incident, saying the waterway remains the “safest and shortest route” between Asia and Europe.
The 25 crew members of the “Ever Given”, all from India, are well and still on board. So far there is no information about possible damage to the cargo or pollution of the water./jot/DP/jha