Traffic resumed on the Suez Canal waterway on Monday almost a week since a massive cargo ship blocked it, bringing an end to a crisis that for nearly a week clogged one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries.
The Evergreen vessel has refloated and traffic is resumed, the Suez Canal Authority announced.
Helped by the peak of high tide, a flotilla of tugboats managed to wrench the bulbous bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since last Tuesday.
After hauling the fully laden 220,000-ton vessel over the canal bank, the salvage team was pulling the vessel toward the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, where the ship will undergo technical inspection, canal authorities said.
Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com confirmed that the ship was moving away from the shoreline toward the center of the artery.
The obstruction has created a massive traffic jam in the vital passage, holding up $9 billion each day in global trade and straining supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.
The vessel blocked about 10% of international maritime trade and cost Egypt some $12-14 million in revenue each day.
About 425 ships were waiting on Monday to cross the canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
But it may take a while to clear the waterway.
Data firm Refinitiv estimated it could take more than 10 days to clear the backlog of ships. Meanwhile, dozens of vessels have opted for the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip — a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) detour that adds some two weeks to journeys and costs ships hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs.
The freeing of the vessel came after dredgers vacuumed up sand and mud from the vessel’s bow and 10 tugboats pushed and pulled the vessel for five days, managing to partially refloat it at dawn.