Probe into Suez Canal blockage begins 

WION Web Team
Suez (Egypt)  Published: Mar 30, 2021, 07:04 PM(IST)

(File photo) The ship at Suez Canal | Courtesy: Twitter user @nameshiv Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

As convoys of ships again began travelling in this artery linking East and West through the Mediterranean and Red Seas, hundreds more idled waiting for their turn in process that will take days. Egyptian government officials, insurers, shippers and others similarly waited for more details about what caused the skyscraper-sized Ever Given to become wedged across the canal's southern single-lane on March 23

Experts on Tuesday boarded the massive container ship that had blocked Egypt's vital Suez Canal and disrupted global trade for nearly a week, seeking answers to a single question that could mean billions of dollars in legal implications: What went wrong? 

As convoys of ships again began travelling in this artery linking East and West through the Mediterranean and Red Seas, hundreds more idled waiting for their turn in process that will take days. Egyptian government officials, insurers, shippers and others similarly waited for more details about what caused the skyscraper-sized Ever Given to become wedged across the canal's southern single-lane on March 23. 

When blame gets assigned, it could turn into years of litigation over the costs of repairing the ship, fixing the canal and reimbursing those, who saw their cargo shipments disrupted. And with the vessel being owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, flagged in Panama and now stuck in Egypt, matters quickly become an international morass. 

"This ship is a multinational conglomeration," said Capt John Konrad, the founder and CEO of the shipping news website gcaptain.Com. 

Experts boarded the Ever Given as it idled on Tuesday in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake, just north of the site where it previously blocked the canal. A senior canal pilot, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to journalists, said that experts were looking for signs of damage and trying to determine the cause of the vessel's grounding. 

As of Tuesday morning, more than 300 vessels carrying everything from crude oil to cattle were waiting on both ends of the Suez Canal and in the Great Bitter Lake for permission to continue sailing to their destinations, canal service provider Leth Agencies said. 

The ship's owner, the Japanese firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., said Tuesday that it would be part of the investigation along with other parties, though it did not identify them by name. It also refused to discuss possible causes of the incident, including the ship's speed and the high winds that buffeted it during a sandstorm, saying it cannot comment on an ongoing investigation. Initial reports also suggested a 'blackout' struck the vessel, something denied by the ship's technical manager. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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