Egypt slashes millions off compensation claim to $550 mln over Suez Canal blockage

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Egypt has slashed millions of dollars off its compensation claim against the Japanese owner of a megaship that blocked the Suez canal in March, the canal authority chief said late on Sunday.

Egyptian authorities had seized the 200,000-tonne MV Ever Given in April and lodged a claim in a local court demanding $916 million from its owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha in compensation for the ship’s release.

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But Suez Canal Authority (SCA) head Osama Rabie said the claim had been dropped to $550 million in a televised interview with talk show host Amr Adib late Sunday.

“After the owners of the ship estimated the costs of the cargo loaded to be around $775 million, we respected this and reduced the (compensation) claim to $550 million,” he said.

The Ever Given became diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, triggering a mammoth six-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.

The waterway connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and is used for more than 10 percent of world trade.

Egypt lost between $12 million and $15 million in revenues for each day the canal was closed, according to SCA figures.

A court in Ismailia, where the SCA is headquartered, ruled on Sunday the ongoing case against Shoei Kisen Kaisha would be moved to a more specialized court on May 29.

The SCA also announced Sunday in a statement that one of its rescue workers had died during the salvage efforts, but did not provide further details.

Earlier this month, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved massive expansion of the canal to avoid future blockages.

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