Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocks Egypt’s vital Suez Canal
Officials said a Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked Egypt’s vital Suez Canal, the latest such incident on the busy waterway.
CAIRO — A Hong Kong-flagged ship briefly blocked Egypt’s vital Suez Canal on Thursday morning, authorities said, the latest such incident on the busy waterway.
Leth Agencies, the canal services company that oversees the waterway, said the Xin Hai Tong ran aground on 23 reefs before dawn at the canal’s southern entrance and blocked four vessels. The ship was refloated by the Suez Canal Authority a few hours later and normal traffic resumed.
However, Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said the ship broke down due to engine failure while transiting the canal. They said the vessel was towed from the area by three tugboats.
The two conflicting accounts of the development of the case could not be reconciled.
The bulk carrier, which measures approximately 190 meters (625 feet) by 32 meters (105 feet), was bound for Suez from the Red Sea port of Duba, Saudi Arabia. It was at sea about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) south of the channel later Thursday, according to Marine Traffic, a ship-tracking company.
Thursday’s incident is the latest in a spate of ships running aground in the Suez Canal or stuck in the crucial waterway over the past few years.
In January, the ship, owned by the Greek company Primera Shipping Inc., broke down at the 38-kilometer (24-mile) mark of the canal near the Egyptian town of Qantara. In March, a Liberian-flagged vessel ran aground on a two-lane section of the waterway. Both ships were refloated hours later.
The most prominent case was the skyscraper-sized Panamanian-flagged container ship Ever Given, which ran aground on a single-lane section of the canal in March 2021, blocking the waterway. A massive rescue effort by a flotilla of tugboats, aided by the tide, freed her six days later, ended the crisis and allowed hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the channel.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a vital link for oil, natural gas and cargo to Egypt’s biggest foreign exchange earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest ships.