Suez Canal blockage could be eased by favorable tides, officials say

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March 27 (UPI) — The maritime traffic jam in Egypt’s Suez Canal worsened Saturday as more ships lined up behind the cargo ship Ever Given, which has been trapped since Tuesday.

The number of vessels trapped in the canal has now reached 276, according to Leth Agencies, the canal’s service provider. A couple days earlier, the number was 156, The Washington Post reported.

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The Leth Agencies reported earlier that Egyptian media outlets indicated 10 tugs were assigned to the area and had been able to release the 224,000-ton cargo ship Ever Given’s propeller and rudder.

There is also hope the ship might be able to be moved with favorable tidal condition expected in coming days, according to Leth Agencies.

The blockage worsened economic fallout with more ships trapped carrying billions of dollars of goods. The U.S. Navy team is also slated to arrive this weekend to assist with efforts to move the vessel.

The maritime traffic jam has grown and strained global supply chains since the Ever Given ran aground Tuesday during a sandstorm in the canal.

It is especially impacting the automotive industry since it’s already struggling with a shortage of semiconductors, NBC News reported.

Suppliers have been strained by the COVID-19 pandemic with increased demand for household supplies. Global importers have relied on the Suez Canal to avoid congestion at West Coast ports in the United States.

NBC News reported Friday that the blockage is costing an estimated $400 an hour in trade.

Officials suspended traffic indefinitely through the Suez Canal on Thursday due to the blockage.