Suez Canal temporarily blocked by vessel run aground

A bulk carrier vessel became wedged Thursday in Egypt’s Suez Canal, briefly blocking traffic in one lane of crucial global waterway, Egyptian authorities said.

The Suez Canal Authority said in a statement that the Panama-flagged Coral Crystal ran aground in a double-lane stretch of the canal, forcing the officials to redirect other vessels in the convoy to the other lane.

The canal transits two convoys everyday; One north-bound to the Mediterranean and the other south-bound to the Red Sea.

It said the canal’s tugboats managed to float the south-bound vessel, which carries cargo weighing 43,000 tons. The Coral Crystal then resumed its voyage, the canal said.

Admiral Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal, described the incident as a "very brief grounding," which was resolved in a "professional manner."

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Geoge Safwat, the canal spokesman, said 61 vessels, carrying a total of 3.2 million tons cargo, transited in the Suez Canal on Thursday. "Traffic (at the canal) was not negatively impacted in anyway," since it was redirected to the other lane of waterway, he said.

Officials have not said what caused the vessel to run aground.

The ship was built in 2012 with a length of nearly 225 meters (738 feet) and a width of over 32 meters (104 feet). It was en route to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, according to Traffic Marine, a vessel tracking firm.

Suez Ship Is Refloated in First Step to Clearing Canal

Sunrise beyond commercial shipping at the entrance to the Suez Canal in Suez, Egypt on Monday, March 29, 2021. The Ever Given has been re-floated in an operation early Monday and maneuvers are scheduled to resume again at about 11:30 a.m. local time,

Thursday’s incident came less than six months after the massive Panama-flagged Ever Given ran aground in the single-lane stretch of the canal. The hulking vessel blocked the canal for six days before being released in a massive salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats.

The blockage earlier this year disrupted global shipment. About 10% of world trade flows through the canal, a pivotal source of foreign currency to Egypt. Some 19,000 vessels passed through the canal last year, according to official figures.