Suez Canal blockage: what happened to blocked Ever Given ship and has it had an impact on global shipping?

More dredging equipment is on its way in a fresh attempt to shift the boat stuck in critical trade gateway

The Ever Given ran aground in the Suez Canal, Egypt, blocking the passage for scores of other ships (PA).

Ever Given, the stricken ship blocking the Suez Canal, has been refloated after almost one week of being wedged between vital waterways – with queues of 320 boats waiting to pass through the trade artery.

The breakthrough came after intensive efforts with ten tugboats pushing and pulling the ship while vacuuming up sand underneath the ship with several dredgers during high tide.

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Maritime services company Inchcape reported that the ship had been freed in the early hours of Monday morning while the world's biggest shipping company, Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, warned its customers that it would take anywhere from three to six days to clear the backlog of vessels at the canal.

But more dredging equipment is set to arrive by Tuesday as the boat’s bow is still stuck.

When did the Ever Given get stuck?

The Ever Given is one of the largest cargo ships in the world at 400m long and 59m wide.

It had been travelling from China to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and was passing through the Suez Canal on its way north when it got lodged in the water sideways at around 7.40am (5.40 GMT) on Tuesday, March 23.

What happened to the ship?

Evergreen Marine Corp, a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.

On Saturday, the head of the Suez Canal Authority told journalists that strong winds were "not the only cause" for the Ever Given running aground, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others.

Osama Rabei said an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement maintains that their "initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding".

However, at least one initial report suggested a "blackout" struck the hulking vessel carrying some 20,000 containers at the time of the incident.

Where is the Suez Canal and how long is it?

The 120 mile long Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea – and crosses the Suez Isthmus in Egypt.

It is a human-made waterway, which was opened in 1869 and provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West.

Around 10 per cent of the world's trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt's top foreign currency earners, and incorporates three natural lakes.

Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, an average of 52 per day, according to official figures. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal.

Has it caused delays in shipping around the world?

Authorities had been unable to move the vessel, and traffic through the canal - valued at more than nine billion dollars (£6.53 billion) a day - was halted, further disrupting a global shipping network already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.

A prolonged closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East. Already, Syria has begun rationing the distribution of fuel in the war-torn country amid concerns of delays of shipments arriving amid the blockage.

As of early Sunday, more than 320 ships were waiting to travel through the Suez, either to the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, according to Leth.

At least 10 of those vessels carried livestock, raising concerns about the animals. Mr Rabei told the Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al-Arabiya that authorities planned to offer provisions to help them.