Suez Canal traffic blocked again as Hong Kong cargo ship runs aground

A Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel ran aground in the Suez Canal and blocked traffic in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes before it was successfully refloated.

According to tracking data, the Xin Hai Tong 23 ran aground just inside the southern mouth of the Suez Canal.

Leth Agencies, which oversees traffic in the canal, acknowledged the incident and said it was able to refloat the stricken vessel more than two hours later.

Tracking data showed no vessels moving in that area of the canal at the time.

In a tweet Leth Agencies said: "M/V XIN HAI TONG 23 has grounded in the Suez Canal at KM 159/0400 hrs."

It added it was "leaving behind 4 vessels from the early convoy in addition to the ordinary group which was planned to enter Suez Canal at about 0600 hrs."

Canal authorities said that they had been informed of an engine malfunction.

The process to refloat the shup using tugboats was briefly delayed by a failure of the ship's winch.

After the cargo vessel was refloated, the canal authority confirmed that "shipping activity on both directions would return to normal as soon as the towing process is finished, as a precautionary measure."

The ship had set out from Dhuba port in Saudi Arabia.

It is owned by Xiang B12 HK International Ship Lease and managed by Tosco Keymax International Ship Management. The ship measures some 190 metres (625 feet) by 32 metres (105 feet) and typically carries cargo.

Shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon shipping data earlier showed the ship as "not under command" near the southern end of the canal.

It was initially positioned at an angle with its stern abutting the canal's eastern side, but by 9am local time the ship appeared to have been moved towards the centre of the canal and was pointed south.

Three Egyptian tugboats were also seen surrounding the vessel, according to tracking data.

The ship is smaller than the Ever Given, a colossal container ship that crashed into a bank on a single-lane stretch of the canal in March 2021, blocking the waterway.

The crisis ended six days later, after a massive concerted efforts by a flotilla of tugboats that freed the skyscraper-sized vessel and allowed hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal.

Additional reporting by Associated Press