Speed Reads

Naval blockade

Massive container ship is wedged sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal, blocking all shipping traffic

A massive container ship that got stuck sideways in Egypt's Suez Canal on Tuesday morning was still blocking all shipping traffic in one of the world's busiest waterways Wednesday, The Associated Press reports, citing satellite data. The MV Ever Given, owned by Japan's Shoei Kisen and operated by operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Group, appears to have its protruding bow wedged under one bank of the canal and its stern nearly touching the other one.

The Ever Given is one of the world's largest cargo ships, almost 200 feet wide and a quarter mile (400 meters) long. "It can move more than 20,000 containers and is taller than the Empire State Building if turned upright," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Leth Agencies, a service provider for the Suez Canal, said about 42 northbound vessels and 64 southbound ships are sitting idle, waiting for the blockade to be cleared. "There are ships ahead and behind us as far as you can see," Manolis Kritikos, a mechanic at one tanker, told the Journal. Julianne Cona posted a photo to Instagram of the Ever Given from aboard one of those idle ships, the MV Denver.

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It isn't clear what happened to the Ever Given. Evergreen blamed strong winds for the ship's mishap, but shipping logistics company GAC said the Ever Given suffered "a blackout while transiting in a northerly direction."

The 120-mile Suez Canal, opened in 1869, is a vital shipping route for oil, natural gas, and containers of manufactured goods traveling from Asia to Europe and vice versa. The Suez Canal Authority says about 19,000 vessels passed through the canal in 2020, representing about 10 percent of the world's trade.