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Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority (SCA) will seek over 1 billion U.S. dollars in compensation for the losses caused by the container ship Ever Given that was stuck in the waterway and blocking navigation for six days, SCA chairman Osama Rabie has said.

The 224,000-ton ship was grounded in the vital Suez waterway on March 23 and was refloated six days later through the efforts of the Suez Canal  Authority in cooperation with the Dutch firm Boskalis and its emergency response team SMIT Salvage hired by Ever Given’s owner.

The Suez Canal is a major lifeline for global seaborne trade since it allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa, thereby reducing the sea distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 km by linking the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.

Egypt resumed navigation in the canal several hours after the stranded container ship was rescued early Monday, after which many of the 422 ships that have been kept waiting started to cross the waterway.

By Saturday at most, all 422 delayed ships will have crossed the Suez Canal, according to Rabie.

Egyptian officials say the backlog of ships waiting to transit through should be cleared in around three days, but experts believe the knock-on effect on global shipping could take weeks or even months to resolve.

The cost of shipping goods to Europe is expected to rise as a result, BBC Business Correspondent Theo Leggett reports.

Shipping group Maersk said the “ripple effects on global capacity and equipment” were significant.

“There’ll be an investigation, clearly, because this has had such a big impact and exactly what’s happened here, I think, will be debated for some time,” Marcus Baker, global head of marine and cargo at Marsh Inc, told Reuters.

“What do we do going forward to ensure it doesn’t happen again? Again, I would leave that to the competent authorities that are in Egypt to decide how they want to make sure that traffic transits safely through the canal because, look, it’s in their interest to do that.”

Anubhav Sharma
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