Suez Canal blockage to take 3 and a half days to clear after ship is refloated

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It will take three and a half days to clear a traffic jam of hundreds of vessels caused by a trapped ship in the Suez Canal, Egyptian authorities say.

After news broke that the gigantic Ever Given has been "partially refloated" in a major breakthrough, the Suez Canal Authority will take a few days to get back up to speed.

The vessel has been blocking billions of pounds worth of trade after becoming stuck almost a week ago with almost 400 ships stuck behind it and hoping to pass through the strategic waterway.

Osama Rabie, boss of the Suez Canal Authority, said: "The canal will be functioning 24 hours per day immediately after the ship has been refloated."

He added it would then take "around three and a half days to clear the backlog.

A video showed the stern of the gigantic Ever Given ship swing towards the canal bank, with voices heard shouting "praise be to God" and "God is great" in celebration as tug boats moved around it.

Local sources said the ship, which has been stranded for almost a week, had been straightened and returned to "normal course", although it remains stuck in the vital strategic route.

The breakthrough came after canal services firm Leth Agencies said the vessel had been "partially refloated". following intensive efforts to push and pull it with 10 tug boats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at high tide.

On Monday, the Suez Canal Authority said the course of the 400m-long vessel has been corrected by 80%.

The Ever Given has been blocking one of the world's busiest trade routes, forcing companies to reroute their ships and causing long tailbacks.

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Hopes have now been raised that traffic along the Egyptian canal could resume within hours, clearing the way for an estimated £7 billion worth of goods that is being held up each day.

The company responsible for the salvage, Dutch firm Smit Salvage, welcomed the news, but warned completing job would not be easy.

Water will now be injected under the ship's bow to remove sand and clay but the containers may have to be removed if that was unsuccessful.

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The canal, which separates Africa from the Middle East and Asia, is one of the busiest trade routes in the world with about 12% of total global trade passing through it.

It provides the shortest link between the region and Europe. An alternative route, around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, can take two weeks longer for ships to navigate.

It is feared the Suez Canal blockage will have a knock-on effect on the UK in the form of price rises and shortages in shops.

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given became stuck in the canal last Tuesday.

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