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Suez Canal ship’s owner apologizes as blockage enters third day

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The owner of the titanic ship blocking the Suez Canal apologized Thursday for bringing one of the world’s most vital waterways to a standstill as the traffic jam stretched into its third day.

The apology from Japanese ship-leasing firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. came as a team of powerful tugboats worked to free the Ever Given, the 440 million-pound vessel that ran aground Tuesday after high winds turned it sideways.

At least 150 other ships are reportedly waiting for the blockage to clear before they can pass through the Egyptian canal, a crucial route between Europe and Asia that carries about 12 percent of the world’s trade.

“We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha said in a statement Thursday. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships traveling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.”

The Suez Canal Authority temporarily suspended navigation through the canal Thursday as crews continued work to free the Ever Given after an overnight pause.

Ever Given Suez Canal
The Ever Given, seen here in a satellite photo, ran aground Tuesday.

Workers managed to partially refloat the skyscraper-sized cargo ship on Wednesday, which reportedly spurred hopes that some traffic could resume by Thursday.

But experts told Bloomberg News that the blockage could continue until Monday given that tugboats and diggers have failed to move the Panamanian vessel. Thirteen ships that started moving along the canal Wednesday had to drop anchor until the big boat is freed, officials said.

A team of eight large tugboats is working to tow and push the Ever Given, the largest of which has a towing power of 160 tons, according to the Suez Canal Authority. SMIT Salvage — an elite Dutch maritime firm specializing in aiding ships in distress — is helping with the effort alongside Japan’s Nippon Salvage, Bloomberg reported.

Suez Canal Ever Green
At least 150 other ships are reportedly waiting for the blockage to clear.

Dredgers have been used to clear silt from around the giant vessel, and workers may reportedly have to remove fuel or ballast water — which keeps ships stable while at sea — to lighten the load.

The economic impact of the jam will only get worse the longer it continues. More than $9 billion worth of goods could be passing through the canal each day that it’s closed, according to the shipping journal Lloyd’s List. And the affected ships may reportedly include 10 tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude oil.

The blockage may also be an expensive headache for Shoei Kisen Kaisha. The firm and its insurers could face millions of dollars in claims from the Suez Canal Authority and other ships that are caught up in the mess, experts told Reuters.

With Post wires

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