No timeline given for extracting wedged ship from Suez Canal

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This satellite image from Maxar Technologies shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Friday, March 26, 2021. A maritime traffic jam grew to more than 200 vessels Friday outside the Suez Canal and some vessels began changing course as dredgers worked frantically to free a giant container ship that is stuck sideways in the waterway and disrupting global shipping. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

SUEZ – A giant container ship remained stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal for a fifth day Saturday, as authorities made new attempts to free the vessel and reopen a crucial waterway whose blockage is disrupting global shipping and trade.

Meanwhile, the head of the Suez Canal Authority said strong winds were “not the only cause” for the Ever Given running aground on Tuesday, appearing to push back against conflicting assessments offered by others. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei told a news conference Saturday that an investigation was ongoing but did not rule out human or technical error.

The massive Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, got stuck in a single-lane stretch of the canal, about six kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

Rabei said he could not predict when the ship might be dislodged. A Dutch salvage firm is attempting to refloat the vessel with tugboats and dredgers, taking advantage of high tides.

Rabei said he remained hopeful that dredging could free the ship without having to resort to removing its cargo, but added that “we are in a difficult situation, it’s a bad incident.”

Asked about when they expected to free the vessel and reopen the canal, he said: "I can’t say because I do not know.”

Shoei Kisen, the company that owns the vessel, said it was considering removing containers if other refloating efforts failed.

Two attempts to free the vessel failed Saturday, according to Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the ship's management company, and a canal services provider, Leth agencies, despite hopes that a high tide might give the vesslela boost.