World

A ship has become stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.

According to Leth Shipping Agency, the ship is the Xin Hai Tong 23, a 189m-long bulk carrier that was built in 2010 and is sailing under the flag of Hong Kong.

The agency said that tugboats are trying to re-float it and at least four other vessels are stuck behind it.

The Suez Canal runs between Port Said (Būr Sa’īd) on the Mediterranean Sea, and Suez (al-Suways) on the Red Sea.

It is just 200m wide at its narrowest point – a feature that has caused problems for ships before.

In 2021, the Ever Given became stuck for six days when it hit the bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal about 3.7 miles north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

The ship had been on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam and its grounding caused chaos for the shipping industry, which was already under pressure from COVID-19-related supply chain problems.

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At one point it was estimated by Lloyd’s List that the stranded container vessel was holding up $400m an hour in trade.

The shipping data and news company valued the canal’s westbound traffic at roughly $5.1bn a day and eastbound traffic at around $4.5bn a day.

Roughly 30% of the world’s shipping container volume passes through the canal, and about 12% of total global trade.

The reason the canal is such a popular route is that it saves a ship from having to travel around the southern tip of Africa – which would add 3,315 nautical miles to a journey between Tokyo to Rotterdam, according to the World Economic Forum.

In January a container ship loaded with more than 65,000 tonnes of corn from Ukraine was re-floated after running aground in the canal.

In August last year, an oil tanker also ran aground in a single-lane stretch of the canal, blocking it for five hours.

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