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Suez Canal could be blocked for weeks as ship owner apologises

Over 150 ships are said to be waiting to pass through the Suez Canal

The owner of the cargo ship that has been blocking the Suez Canal since Tuesday has apologised for disrupting global trade, while rescuers confirmed the container ship could block the canal for “weeks”.

Japanese company, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, said it was striving to resolve the situation, but it was proving to be very difficult.

Dredgers arrived on Thursday to assist in digging out the 220,000-tonne Ever Given after it became unstuck in the canal, blocking the passage for other ships.

The boat became wedged in across the canal following a sandstorm, which lead Boskalis, a company partaking in the rescue, to compare the mission to trying to free a beached whale.

Over 150 ships are said to be waiting to pass through the vital maritime route.

The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, providing the shortest sea route from Asia to Europe, with around 12% of global trade passing through the canal.

“The more secure the ship is, the longer an operation will take,” Boskalis chief executive Peter Berdowski told the Dutch media. “It can take days to weeks. Bringing in all the equipment we need, that’s not around the corner.”

One alternative route, is to go around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa, however, it can add 14 days on to the journey time.

Toshiaki Fujiwara, an official at Shoei Kisen Kaisha, informed Reuters that the ship had an insurance policy, but that he was not totally sure of the details or any costs involved at this stage. “It’s just the beginning,” he said.

“Every port in Western Europe is going to feel this,” Leon Willems, a spokesman for Rotterdam Port, Europe’s largest, said. “We hope for both companies and consumers that it will be resolved soon. When these ships do arrive in Europe, there will inevitably be longer waiting times.”

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