Traffic jam eases further in Suez Canal after ship unblocked

Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is seen in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Experts have boarded Ever Given container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week before it was dislodged. A canal pilot says engineers are inspecting the Ever Given for damage and trying to determine why it ran aground. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed)
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is seen in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Experts have boarded Ever Given container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week before it was dislodged. A canal pilot says engineers are inspecting the Ever Given for damage and trying to determine why it ran aground. (AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CAIRO – The maritime traffic jam on both ends of the Suez Canal eased further on Friday, four days after the dislodging of a massive containership that had blocked the waterway, authorities said.

On Monday, salvage teams freed the skyscraper-sized Ever Given, ending a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce. At the time, canal officials said that more than 420 ships had been waiting for the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship to be freed so they could make the crossing.

Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, head of the Suez Canal Authority said 80 cargo ships carrying carrying a total load of 4.7 tons transited through the canal on Friday, including the American aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“This proves the global maritime community has great faith in the Suez Canal and Egypt's ability to guarantee safety and security to different types of vessels,” Rabie was quoted in a statement.

Earlier, Leth Agencies said that a total of 357 vessels have crossed the Canal since the ship was re-floated by a flotilla of tugboats, helped by the tides. The number of vessels waiting to transit fell to 206 on Friday, the company said, from over 300 earlier in the week.

The Ever Given had crashed into a bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez. That forced some ships to take the long, alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip — a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) detour that costs ships hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs. Others waited in place for the blockage to be over.

The unprecedented shutdown, which raised fears of extended delays, goods shortages and rising costs for consumers, added to strain on the shipping industry, already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.