Ship traffic waiting to cross blocked Suez Canal grows, disrupting global shipping

There are more than 200 vessels outside the Suez Canal as Egyptian officials frantically try to set free the giant container ship stuck in the vital waterway and disrupting global shipping.

The closure of Suez Canal has halted global trade worth $9.6 billion a day since Tuesday.

Lloyd’s List said data indicated 213 vessels were now stalled at either end of the canal, which links the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

Efforts to free it may take weeks and can be complicated by unstable weather, threatening costly delays for companies already dealing with COVID-19 restrictions.

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged across the entire canal since Tuesday, shutting the crucial shipping lane in both directions.

IN PICTURES: Ever Given chokes Suez Canal

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The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said efforts to free the ship by tug had resumed following the completion of dredging operations at its bow to remove 20,000 cubic metres of sand.

“The tugging operations require the availability of a number of supporting factors including wind direction and tides, which makes it a complex technical process,” the authority said.

Smit Salvage, a Dutch firm that has worked on some of the most famous wrecks of recent years, confirmed there would be “two additional tugs” arriving by Sunday to assist.

The Suez Canal Authority said it welcomed international offers of help.

20 livestock vessels stranded

About 20 vessels stuck behind the canal are said to be carrying farm-bound livestock, some of them loaded in Spain and Romania weeks ago.

There is fear of the animals facing food shortage and possible dehydration.

“It’s basically a ticking biohazard timebomb for animals and the crew and any person involved,” Gerit Weidinger, European Union coordinator for Animals International said.

Weidinger said due to waste build up the animals cannot lie down, nor can the crew get rid of the bodies of the dead animals.

Spanish authorities have banned transport of the livestock, that need to pass the canal.