The Suez Canal in Egypt was blocked on Tuesday after a massive container ship ran aground.
Traffic through the busy waterway was halted in both directions by the 400-metre long and 59 metre-wide cargo ship.
The blockage caused a pile-up of at least 100 vessels seeking to transit between the Red Sea and Mediterranean, according to ship brokers and mapping data compiled by Bloomberg.
Julianne Cona, who posted a picture on Instagram of the Ever Given from a nearby vessel, said the “ship is super stuck”.
“They had a bunch of tugs trying to pull and push it earlier but it was going nowhere. There is a little excavator trying to dig out the bow.”
The Ever Given is registered in Panama and was en route to Rotterdam from Yantian in China when it got into difficulty.
According to online reports, the vessel had travelled through Taipei and Malaysia, and was scheduled to arrive in Rotterdam at the end of the month.
It arrived in the Suez Canal on Monday night before getting stuck on Tuesday. It remained jammed early on Wednesday.
The Ever Given’s bow was touching the canal’s eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against its western wall.
Several tug boats surrounded the ship, attempting to push it the right way.
“There was a grounding incident” in the Suez Canal, said Alok Roy, fleet director of BSM Hong Kong, the Ever Given ship manager. There have been no reported injuries or pollution, he said.
The ship’s operator, Taiwan-based Evergreen Group, wasn’t immediately able to respond to a request for comment.
Ship tracking data showed the Ever Given still in the same position as of about 2am Wednesday in Cairo, with vessels backed up on either side.
Authorities are expected to try removing sand from around the areas where the vessel is grounded, an operation that may take days, Cairo24 news reported, citing the Suez Canal Authority.
In 2019, the container set the record for the largest vessel to travel through the Panama Canal, according to The Maritime Executive.
According to the website, the transit exceeded the waterway’s established maximum vessel length of 366 metres.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal is among the most trafficked waterways in the world, providing a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo being shipping from East to West.
Nearly 19,000 ships passed through it last year with a total tonnage of 1.17 billion, according to the Suez Canal Authority (SCA).
Around 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels.