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“Ever Given” accident: Decisive day on the Suez Canal

Status: 03/28/2021 1:19 p.m.

The “Ever Given” has been stuck in the Suez Canal since Tuesday – today helpers want to make another attempt at rescue with new, heavy equipment. If it doesn’t work, it is unloaded. Meanwhile, other ships are making their way around Africa.

The rescue operation around the wrecked giant freighter “Ever Given” is getting reinforcements again: two more tugs arrived in Suez on Sunday morning, as satellite data from Marinetraffic showed. The Dutch “Alp Guard” and the Italian “Carlo Magno” were supposed to help tow the container ship free.

Ten tugs and suction dredgers have already been working on the crashed large freighter. After there was a little progress yesterday – specialists were able to uncover a small part of the stern – there should be two more attempts today at high tide. The head of the Dutch recovery company Boskalis, Peter Berdowski, explained that specialists rely on a combination of heavy tugs, suction dredgers and the spring tide, which will be up to 50 centimeters higher than normal due to the upcoming full moon.

No end of the rescue operation in sight

In addition, sand and mud under the ship should continue to be vacuumed. “We hope that the combination of the tugs we will have there, more dredged ground and the tide will be enough to free the ship sometime early next week,” said Berdowski. If that weren’t enough, hundreds of containers would have to be unloaded. A crane for this is already on the way.

The head of the Egyptian Canal Authority, Osama Rabei, could not give a more precise prognosis about when the “Ever Given” could be afloat again: “I can’t say because I don’t know,” he said. The situation is difficult. “Sunday is very important,” said a canal pilot. He’ll show how to go on. He also said that the next step would most likely mean at least partial unloading of the ship. That would be difficult, however, and would take an enormous amount of time. While the salvage experts are still hoping to get around it, according to the canal authority, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi has now ordered preparations to be made for the unloading.

Several container ships are stowed in front of the Suez Canal. Some shipping companies have already instructed their fleets to take the long route around Africa.

Image: REUTERS

Tens of thousands of animals in need

In the meantime, a number of shipping companies have started to let their ships sail around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. The largest shipping company in the world, the Danish shipping company Moller-Maersk, said deliveries would be delayed by three to six days because of the longer routes. The traffic jam at the canal access stops hundreds of ships.

These include eleven Romanian freighters with live animals on board – according to animal rights activists, there are 130,000 sheep. Veterinary authorities in Bucharest assured “that there will be enough food and water on board for the coming days”. Animal rights activists fear the death of the sheep on board the ships.

In the Suez Canal, the 400-meter-long and over 220,000-tonne container ship “Ever Given” went off course on Tuesday and ran aground near the bank. It has since blocked the waterway between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

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