Sunday , July 25 2021

Suez Canal Authority attempting to refloat Ever Given ship this morning, unclear if successful

Ten tug boats are being used to pull the Ever Given from the front and back to try to dislodge it, said the statement.

Crews from Egypt and around the world have been working nonstop to try to refloat the ship, but previous efforts have failed. This latest attempt, however, is being executed during high tide where the water in the channel is at its highest. It’s unclear if the attempt is successful yet.

The Ever Given, a 224,000-ton vessel almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground in the Egyptian canal on March 23. A massive effort to salvage the ship has focused on dredging sand from below the front and rear of the ship, before pulling the ship with tugboats.

Rescue teams started digging deeper and closer to the ship on Sunday, with dredging reaching 18 meters (59 feet) at the front of the ship, the SCA said in a statement. Over 27,000 cubic meters of sand, has been removed so far, said SCA head Osama Rabie. Their efforts haven’t succeeded in moving the ship much — but its rudders and propellers were freed on Friday, allowing for some movement.

“We managed to move the ship from the bow side by 4 meters, and likewise from the stern side,” Rabie said on Saturday. “The dredging operations led to the ship moving, albeit a slight move, but it is a positive development, because in the first two days the ship was not moving at all.”

But the cost piling up and concern is rising about the impact of the blockage on global supply chains. The Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest and most important waterways, is losing an estimated $14 million every day in transit fees, while billions of dollars of cargo is backlogged on over 350 ships currently awaiting passage.

The effects of the crisis are already becoming clear. Nearby Syria imposed fuel rationing on Sunday to safeguard dwindling oil supplies, after oil tankers were unable to make deliveries due to the blockage. Syrian authorities said the ration order was necessary to “guarantee the continued supply of basic services to Syrians such as bakeries, hospitals, water stations, communication centers, and other vital institutions.”

With pressure building, the SCA is also weighing alternative rescue options should the ongoing one fail, including lightening the massive load of the cargo to make it easier to move.

This would be no easy task, as a floating crane would be required to remove the dozens of containers off the ship, a source close to the salvation efforts in the SCA told CNN.

“Plan C is the difficult one, the unloading operation,” said Rabie on Saturday at a news conference. “It’s difficult because there are 18,000 containers, and there is no crane that can access the containers.”

Egypt and the Suez Canal Authority do not have a mobile crane that could reach the heights required. However, preparations have been made to bring in the necessary equipment through different countries, Rabie told Egyptian media. He said the United States, China, Greece and the United Arab Emirates had offered help.

Rabie added that the reasons behind the accident remained unclear.

“There are many factors or reasons, fast winds and the sandstorm could have been a reason but not the main reason — it could have been a technical mistake or human error,” he said. “There will be further investigations.”

CNN’s Tim Lister contributed to this report.

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