A giant ship, the length of four football fields, block Sues Canal

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A giant container ship the length of four football pitches has become wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal, blocking traffic in one of the world’s busiest trade routes.

Dozens of vessels are stuck, waiting for rescue boats to free the 400m-long (1,312ft) ship, which was knocked off course by strong winds.

Egypt has reopened the canal’s older channel to divert some traffic until the grounded ship can move again.

The mishap has created long tailbacks.

About 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and provides the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.

The Ever Given, registered in Panama, was bound for the port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China and was passing northwards through the canal on its way to the Mediterranean.

The 200,000 tonne ship, built in 2018 and operated by Taiwanese transport company Evergreen Marine, ran aground and became lodged sideways across the waterway at about 07:40 local time (05:40 GMT) on Tuesday.

At 400m long and 59m wide, the ship has blocked the path of other vessels which are now trapped in lines in both directions.

While experts had warned it could take several days to resolve, shipping agent GAC said the ship had already been partially refloated, and would resume its journey soon. There has been no official confirmation from the Suez Canal Authority.

Reuters, quoting local sources, says there are at least 30 ships blocked to the north of the Ever Given, and three to the south.

Evergreen Marine said the ship was “suspected of being hit by a sudden strong wind, causing the hull to deviate… and accidentally hit the bottom and run aground”.

The company that manages the container ship, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), confirmed on Wednesday that “all crew are safe and accounted for”, with no reports of injuries.

Eight tug boats are working to refloat the ship, and diggers on the ground have been removing sand from where it is wedged into the side of the canal bank.