CAIRO, March 24 (Xinhua) Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said in a statement Wednesday that a heavy cargo ship flying the Panamanian flag ran aground in the new waterway of the Suez Canal, causing traffic congestion.
The ship, about 400 meters long and 59 meters wide, was heading for the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the statement said. The ship ran aground when the channel of the new canal changed direction due to the sand and dust weather in Egypt on the 23rd. Eight tugboats are now trying to redirect the stranded cargo ship and traffic is continuing normally along the old canal route.
Abdul Tawab, a former economic adviser to the Suez Canal Authority, told Xinhua that such incidents have happened before and the authority has contingency plans. At present, the canal has two waterways, the old one and the new one. One is blocked and the other is functioning, mitigating the impact of such an emergency.
The ship ran aground, causing at least 100 vessels to be blocked, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.
Located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, the Suez Canal connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Revenue from the canal is one of Egypt’s main sources of state revenue and foreign exchange reserves.
In August 2015, Egypt opened the new Suez Canal, 72 kilometers long, in the northern section of the original 193 kilometers of the canal. The new canal, which is part of the Suez Canal, has increased the efficiency of the existing waterway by providing two-way traffic, reducing shipping waiting times from 22 hours to 11 hours and allowing larger vessels to pass through.