Published On: Thu, May 25th, 2023
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Ship blocks Suez Canal as tug boats try to clear shipping lane in race against time | World | News

A ship has run aground in the Suez Canal, causing fears that the world’s busiest shipping lane could be blocked. Leth Shipping Agency reported that tugboats had raced to the scene to refloat the vessel as reports suggest four ships were already stuck behind it.

According to MarineTraffic, the ship has now been identified as the Xin Hai Tong, a 13-year-old 189m long bulk carrier sailing under the flag of Hong Kong.

Canal authorities said they were able to refloat the Hai Tong after it briefly disrupted the canal. Leth said that the ship had been refloated around two hours after it first stopped.

Although reports suggest the issue has been fixed, it is not immediately clear what the impact of this blockage has had on the passage of traffic in the canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea.

Recent tracking data shows that no shipping vessels were moving in that area of the canal when the ship became stuck.

READ MORE: Suez Canal blockage: Where is the Ever Given ship now?

Tracking data described the ship as “not under command” as tug boats attempted to refloat it.

The Xin Hai Tong is a bulk carrier, a type of ship that normally carries cargo. The ship in question measures about 190 metres by 32 metres.

The latest blockage in the Suez Canal comes nearly three years after the 400-metre-long Ever Given became stuck diagonally across a southern section of the canal.

The ship, caught out in high winds, was stuck for six days, halting shipping traffic on the shortest route between Asia and Europe.

During the rescue, more than 20,000 tonnes of sand had to be removed by dredges, while 14 tugboats used high tides to dislodge the Japanese-owned vessel.

At the time of the incident, the Lloyd’s List estimated the Ever Given was holding up $400m an hour in trade.

Boss of the salvage firm Boskalis, Peter Berdowski, whose firm was tasked with removing the vessel, praised the “unprecedented” pressure his team had been working under.

He said: “I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 3.05pm local time (2.05pm UK time), thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again.”

Earlier this year it was reported that the Department of Health and Social Care would have to pay £422,000 “towards the costs and damages incurred” because of the Ever Given.

This is because of fees incurred because government cargo was onboard the ship.

The Suez Canal is one of the most important waterways in the world, connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, acting as a short cut, it allows ships to avoid travelling through the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans.

The canal extends from Port Said’s northern terminus to Port Tewfik’s southern terminus in the city of Suez. According to figures, in 2021, more than 20,000 ships traversed the canal.

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