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The massive container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week this year sailed again Wednesday following a multimillion-dollar deal inked between its owners and Egyptian authorities for its release.
A witness on board a tug boat saw the Ever Given start to move north in the Great Bitter Lake, which separates two sections of the canal.
The Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields and weighs 440 million pounds, would be escorted by two tug boats and guided by two experienced pilots as it makes its way towards the Mediterranean, sources told Reuters.
A ceremony was held at the canal to mark the departure of the ship, months after it ran aground in the crucial trade route and reportedly caused losses of up to $10 billion per day.
The Suez Canal Authority confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that it reached a deal with the owners of the container ship, allowing it to leave the canal.
The authorities did not disclose details of the settlement.
The ship was lodged in the banks of the Suez Canal in March, causing an intercontinental traffic jam and capturing the world’s attention for nearly a week before it was dislodged.
After being freed at the end of March, though, the ship was seized by the Suez Canal Authority and has since remained in the Bitter Lakes, near the canal’s southern terminus.
The SCA demanded compensation for lost revenue, damage to the banks of the canal and for the cost of the rescue operation.
Earlier this year, Egyptian authorities reportedly demanded up to $1 billion in compensation from the ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen and its insurers to free the ship, but Reuters reported that negotiations have brought that figure down.
Initial reports on the Ever Given’s blockage of the canal suggested that high winds and a sandstorm that obscured vision played a role in the crash, but Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie later suggested that human error could have played a role, too.
Rabie said in April that Egypt “should get its due” for the debacle that upended global shipping markets and brought hundreds of vessels to a halt.
“The amount of damage and losses, and how much the dredgers consumed, will be calculated,” Rabie said. “Estimates, God willing, will reach a billion dollars and a little bit more, this is the country’s right.”
About 15 percent of global shipping traffic travels through the Suez Canal, which is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
With Post wires
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