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Suez Canal: 220,000-ton ship moves with 'errors' blamed for jam

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General Osama Rabie, Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, told reporters that the vessel could refloat by Sunday after some water had started running underneath it.

By Sunday afternoon, the dredgers had removed more than 27 thousand cubic metres of sand from around the ship, to a depth of 18 metres, according to Leth Agencies, the canal's service provider.

The Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, called in to help tugboats already there, reached the Red Sea near the city of Suez early Sunday, satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed.

For days, tugboats have been struggling to free the ship by towing and pushing the vessel since it ran aground Tuesday, closing off the main ocean route between Europe and Asia.

The blockage has stopped traffic coming from both directions and forced companies to consider taking a more expensive route that diverts vessels past South Africa's Cape of Good Hope.

The Associated Press reported Saturday afternoon that two additional tugboats sped Sunday to Suez Canal to aid efforts to free Ever Given.

A huge container ship that has been wedged in the Suez Canal since Tuesday has reportedly been refloated.

There was no immediate confirmation of the development or indication of when the Suez Canal would reopen to traffic and end the maritime traffic jam, which is costing the global economy billions.

"The SCA values the offer of the United States of America to contribute to these efforts, and looks forward to cooperating with the U.S.in this regard in appreciation of this good initiative which confirms the friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries", the statement said.

"If they don't manage to dislodge it during that high tide, the next high tide is not there for another couple of weeks, and that becomes problematic", Plamen Natzkoff, an expert at VesselsValue, has said.

Some ship managers last week chose to reroute their cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope, adding about two weeks to journeys and extra fuel costs. "Some are starting to reject bookings", it said on Twitter.

Rabie raised hopes on Saturday that the Ever Given could be freed by Sunday.

The effects of the crisis are already clear.

The Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds almost a week ago, halting shipping traffic on the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

More than 320 ships are stalled at either end, Rabie said.

In contrast, Lloyds List said the blockage is holding back an estimated $9.6bn worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe. The closure could affect oil and gas shipments heading north to Europe and elsewhere from the Middle East. Syria has begun rationing fuel amid concerns of delays of shipments. Also affected are 11 ships from Romania carrying 130,000 sheep.

The EU director of NGO Animals International Gabriel Paun warned that thousands of animals being transported on the vessels - mostly Romanian - could be at risk of dying if the situation is not resolved in the next few days.

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