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New attempts planned to free huge vessel stuck in Suez Canal

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EGYPT-SUEZCANAL  SHIP

The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the canal since Tuesday, blocking one of the world's most vital waterways in both directions.

The 400m-long (1,300ft), 200,000-tonne vessel ran aground on Tuesday morning in high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility.

If the tides don't help free the vessel, Shoei Kisen said in a statement Saturday that it would consider removing the containers to reduce the vessel's weight.

Dislodging the ship is expected to take about a week, possibly longer, as news agency Bloomberg reported Friday.

In this June 18, 1956 file photo, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser waves as he moves through Port Said, Egypt, during a ceremony in which Egypt formally took over control of the Suez Canal from Britain.

Suez Canal Chief Lieutenant General Osama Rabei further thanked countries including: the UAE, China, Greece and Japan for offering their assistance and support to help refloat the ship.

Economic fallout began as soon as the Ever Given ran aground, with the price of crude oil fluctuating wildly.

About 12% of global trade passes through the 193km (120-mile) canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe. About 10 per cent of world trade flows through the canal, which is particularly crucial for transporting oil.

The shipping journal said two major companies, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, were looking into whether to re-route their vessels.

According to BBC data based on information from navigation tracking devices, more than 160 ships are held up in front of the Suez Canal, and include 24 oil tankers and ships that carry consumer goods.

"Rough calculations suggest westbound traffic is worth around US$5.1 billion daily while eastbound traffic is worth US$4.5 billion".

This route is used for Indian exports and imports worth United States dollars 200 billion to/from North America, South America and Europe.

"Every port in western Europe will feel the effects", said a spokesman for the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the EU's largest.

The immediate delay will also likely tighten supplies of agricultural processing equipment, frozen beef and pork, powdered milk as well as some Asian foods, according to Sylvain Charlebois, director of Dalhousie University's Agri-Foods Analytics Lab. Experts warn that the stricken ship could clog up the critical route for weeks, meaning hikes in delivery costs around the globe. If it ends up not being possible to refloat the boat, part of its cargo may have to be destroyed.

According to the Suez Canal Authority, 19,000 ships passed through the canal in 2020 - more than 50 a day.

The Ever Given container ship blocks the Suez Canal in this Maxar Technologies satellite image taken on March 26, 2021. There is no problem with its rudders and propellers. "Once it refloats, it should be able to operate", Higaki was quoted as saying.

Since then, dredgers have been working to remove vast quantities of sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel's bow.

"We apologise for blocking the traffic and causing the tremendous trouble and worry to many people, including the involved parties", he said, according to Japan's NHK national television.

"On Friday, there was an indication of success to refloat the ship, but we can not guarantee when exactly the refloating process complete", Rabie 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, it added.

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