Giant ship blocking Suez Canal partially refloated after huge effort to reopen trade route

CAIRO, Egypt – The giant container ship that has blocked traffic in the Suez Canal, halted a major global trade route and caught the world’s attention was partially relieved early Monday.

The Ever Given “flown successfully after the ship responded to the towing and towing maneuvers,” Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, said in a statement.

The stern of the ship is now 102 meters from the shore, he added.

Both the Canal Authority and Inchcape, a separate maritime logistics company that manages shipping in the canal, said the 1,400-foot ship is now 80 percent free.

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The high-rise ship stowed diagonally across a southern section of the Suez Canal on Tuesday. a total of 367 ships abandoned, including dozens of container ships and bulk carriers that will no longer be able to use the main trade route as of Monday morning.

Dredgers worked to remove the stranded ship over the weekend, relocating 27,000 tons of sand to a depth of 60 feet, the canal authority said on Sunday.

A total of 14 tugs carried out pulling maneuvers from three directions in order to remove the ship.

The maneuvers should be resumed when the tide raises the water level again.

The canal authority said it is sending “a reassuring message to the international maritime community to resume navigation on the canal once the ship is fully floated”.

The Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship carrying cargo between Asia and Europe had stopped all traffic across the canal. Experts feared it could take weeks to break free and unblock a route that accounts for about 12 percent of world trade.

The closure threatened to disrupt oil and gas supplies from the Middle East to Europe. Already, Syria had begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country Due to concerns about delays in the arrival of broadcasts, The Associated Press reported.

Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the ship, announced that it would consider removing containers if other attempts to float should fail.

The company told NBC News early Monday that the ship was not yet fully afloat and that the rescue operation had been suspended because the water level, which was challenging throughout the process, had returned.

Charlene Gubash reported from Cairo, Arata Yamamoto from Tokyo and Richie Duchon from Los Angeles.

Arata Yamamoto contributed.

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