Suez Canal: Race to free Ever Given container ship as logjam delays £6.5bn of goods a day

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Efforts are ongoing to free a giant cargo ship blocking Egypt's Suez Canal which is estimated to be holding up more than $9bn (£6.5bn) worth of goods each day.

A fleet of tugboats and a specialised suction dredger are continuing to try to dislodge the 400m (1,312ft) vessel that has been wedged sideways in the critical global shipping lane for the last three days.

It is feared the operation to move the Japanese-owned Ever Given could take weeks, causing a headache for world trade and impacting on UK-bound deliveries.

At least 150 vessels are already backed up either side of the blockage in Egypt, which has caused one of the worst marine jams in decades.

With more than 300 ships still en route to the waterway an even bigger logjam looms.

Around 10% of world trade flows through the 120 mile-long canal which links the Red Sea and Mediterranean and is the quickest maritime link between Asia and Europe.

The only alternative is for vessels to be diverted around the southern tip of Africa - adding to the time and cost of their journeys.

The shipping expert Lloyd's List estimates the closure is disrupting daily more than $9bn (£6.5bn) worth of goods that should be passing through the waterway.

An Egyptian official at the Suez Canal Authority, which operates the route, described the salvage operation as complex and said those trying to dislodge the vessel wanted to avoid complications that could extend the canal closure.

The rescue efforts have focused on dredging to remove sand and mud from around the vessel's bow.

The Suez Canal Authority said it would need to remove more than 6,000 tonnes of sand to reach a depth of 12 to 16m (39 to 52ft).

That depth is likely to allow the ship to float freely again, it said.

The ship's operator and officials have blamed high winds and a sandstorm for the vessel getting stuck diagonally across the canal.

The Ever Given was built in 2018 and at a quarter of a mile long is among the largest cargo ships in the world, able to carry 20,000 containers at a time.

The Panama-registered ship had left China and was heading towards Rotterdam in the Netherlands when it became stuck.

However, it is not the first time it has been involved in a crash.

In 2019 the ship ran into a small ferry moored on the Elbe River in the German port of Hamburg in high winds, severely damaging the ferry.