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Suez Canal blocked by giant container ship run aground

DW, 24 Mar 2021
The Suez Canal has been blocked by a giant container ship after a gust of wind blew it off course, causing it to run aground. The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship with an owner listed in Japan, "accidentally ran aground after a suspected gust of wind hit it," said the ship's operator.

The 400-meter (1,300-foot) long and 59-meter wide vessel is lodged sideways at one of the canal's narrower points, making it impossible for other ships to bypass it.

High winds and a sandstorm, with gusts reaching 50 kilometers per hour (35 miles per hour), had plagued the area on Tuesday.

The canal opened in 1869 and has become one of the world's most important trade routes. The waterway provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas, and cargo being shipped from East to West. Close to 19,000 ships used the canal last year, carrying more than one billion tons of cargo, according to the Suez Canal Authority.

It is a pillar of Egypt's otherwise struggling economy and one of the country's top foreign currency earners. The canal earned Egypt a total of $5.6 billion (€4.7 billion) in revenue in 2020.

Though parts of the waterway were expanded to accommodate the world's largest vessels in 2015, some stretches remain as narrow as 300 meters.

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