Suez Canal traffic jam 'cleared' days after cargo ship freed

The traffic jam at sea, which was caused by the blockage of the Suez Canal by a huge container ship, has now been removed, the Egyptian authorities said on Saturday.

About 422 ships that were visible from space have now cleared the vital artery. The last 61 ships will sail through the waterway on Saturday, announced the Suez Canal Authority.

The backlog built after the massive Ever Given ship landed in the narrow channel on March 23, sparking global interest when efforts to resume flooding stalled and cost billions in halted world trade. The ship was finally freed on Monday.

“All waiting ships crossed the shipping course today,” said Lieutenant General Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, in a statement.

He added that the backlog had been reduced in “record time”.

The 1,400-foot-long Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship taller than the Eiffel Tower, jammed diagonally across a southern section of the Suez Canal, preventing many cargo ships and bulk carriers from using the vital trade route.

International supply chains got into disarray when the boat ran aground. It took specialist rescue teams almost a week to rescue them after extensive dredging and repeated towing operations.

The marooned ship made global headlines and spawned social media memes as it abruptly halted traffic on the vital east-west waterway – a route that accounts for about 12 percent of world trade and for transportation of oil is particularly important.

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An investigation by the Suez Canal Authority began Wednesday, which resulted in the ship running aground for six days and blocking the waterway, chairman Rabie told Egyptian private television company MBC Masr late Friday.

“The investigation is going well and will take two more days, then we will announce the results,” he added.

Early reports suggested that high winds and poor visibility were to blame for a sandstorm, not mechanical or engine failure, but the causes are now the subject of high-profile investigation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Charlene Gubash contributed.

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