Workers have successfully set free the mammoth container ship Ever Given, which had been stuck sideways across the Suez Canal – one of the world’s most crucial trade routes – since last Tuesday.
Egyptian authorities said other vessels were moving again after the gigantic ship was refloated on Monday, helped by the peak of high tide and a flotilla of tugboats which managed to turn the bow towards the sandy bank of the waterway.
The Ever Given has now started heading towards the Bitter Lakes area, according to Egyptian television, after it swung back across the Suez Canal amid high wind, freeing the stern of the skyscraper-sized container ship from the shoreline.
Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed the ship had responded successfully to “pull-and-push manoeuvres”, and had almost been fully straightened.
On Tuesday 23 March, the skyscraper-sized Ever Given got stuck sideways in the crucial waterway, creating a massive traffic jam.
The obstruction has held up £6.52billion each day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, were still waiting to pass through the canal, while dozens were taking the lengthy alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip — a detour that costs ships hundreds of thousands of pounds in fuel and other costs.
With canal transits stopped, Egypt already has lost over £69million in revenue, according to the data firm Refinitiv.
With the ship now freed, it’s expected that clearing the backlog of ships waiting to pass through the canal will take more than ten days.
Videos shared widely on social media showed tugboats in the canal sounding their horns in celebration.
Even as salvage work was ongoing, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi portrayed the development as a victory in his first comments on the stranded vessel.
“Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis,” he wrote on Facebook.