The huge container ship blocking the Suez Canal ran aground in high winds and a dust storm

Business Insider US
Container ships sail in Suez Canal, during the 150th anniversary of the Suez Canal.
  • The Ever Given, a massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal, has been grounded for more than 24 hours.
  • Authorities have attributed the accident to high winds and sandstorms making navigation difficult.
  • Shipping agent GAC Egypt wrote, and then appears to have deleted, a post saying the ship suffered a blackout.
  • See more stories on Business Insider's home page.

The Ever Given, the massive container ship stuck in the Suez Canal, Egypt, was grounded by high winds and a huge dust storm, according to authorities.

The 400m-long cargo ship ran aground at around 7:40 am local time on Tuesday, the ship's technical manager Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) said in a statement to Business Insider.

As of midday Wednesday local time, tugboats and cranes were attempting to free it without success.

An Egyptian official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, told the Associated Press that freeing the ship could take at least two days.

Images show the Ever Given completely blocking to the channel and barring traffic in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, which connects Europe to Asia.

Authorities have blamed the accident on weather conditions. Lieutenant-General Osama Rabie, chair of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), said it probably happened due to "strong winds and a dust storm that obstructed the view," according to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.

This meant the ship was unable to steer, Reuters reported the SCA as saying.

BSM said in its statement to Insider that the ship was grounded "due to strong winds," adding that "initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding."

Early reports attributed the accident to a blackout on the vessel, following a post on the website of the shipping agent GAC Egypt.

"The vessel suffered a black out while transiting in a northerly direction," wrote GAC Egypt on Tuesday. That post has now been deleted. GAC Egypt did not immediately respond to a query asking for clarification.

An update posted Wednesday morning local time from the company gave a short update on rescue efforts, but suggested no particular cause.

"There is currently no indication of when the Canal will be clear and transits will be able to resume," the post read.

High winds and sandstorms are not uncommon at this time of year in Egypt. Every year it experiences a phenomenon known as the khamsin - a fifty-day period where sand sporadically blows in from the Sahara.

Muggy conditions and a sand-filled sky can be seen in images released Wednesday by the SCA, which show construction equipment attempting to dig out the Ever Given's bow.

An image shared by a crew member aboard a ship stuck behind Ever Given gave a glimpse of the colossal traffic jam taking place.

A post shared by Julianne Cona (@fallenhearts17)

And on Vessel Finder, maps show Ever Given's slow progress in getting unstuck from its current position.

A zoomed-in shot in the tweet below shows the tiny excavator used earlier to try to un-wedge Ever Given from the Suez Canal bank it is stuck on.

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