More than 400 ships were waiting to pass through the Suez Canal as the giant container ship Ever Given that had been blocking the waterway was refloated, Egypt's Nile TV reported on Monday.
At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, are backed up as they wait to traverse the canal. Dozens of others have taken 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.
Suez Canal authorities have informed shipping agencies that convoys of ships will resume running both ways through the Suez Canal from 7 p.m. (1700 GMT), two agents told Reuters on Monday.
Salvage teams on Monday freed the colossal container ship stuck for nearly a week in the Suez Canal, ending a crisis that had clogged one of the world’s most vital waterways and halted billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce.
Helped by high tide, a flotilla of tugboats wrenched the bulbous bow of the skyscraper-sized Ever Given from the canal’s sandy bank, where it had been firmly lodged since March 23.
“We pulled it off!” said Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, in a statement. “I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given … thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again."
Buffeted by a sandstorm, 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 created a massive traffic jam that held up $9 billion a day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic.
Egypt, which considers the canal a source of national pride and crucial revenue, already has lost over $95 million in tolls, according to the data firm Refinitiv. Even as salvage work continued, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who for days was silent about the crisis, praised Monday's events.
“Egyptians have succeeded in ending the crisis,” he wrote on Facebook, “despite the massive technical complexity.”