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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Egypt could claim $1bn in compensation for stuck Suez ship

Ever Given is currently in the Great Bitter Lake, roughly halfway along the canal [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 April, 2021

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Egypt's Suez Canal Authority says the Ever Given will only be allowed to continue its voyage once compensation - possibly amounting to $1bn - has been agreed.

Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority on Thursday said losses and damages resulting from the grounding of one of the world’s largest container ships could amount to more than $1 billion.

The head of the state-owned authority, Osama Rabie, said in an interview with Egyptian television that an inquiry into the incident, which begun on Wednesday, will take into account the costs of stalled traffic, salvage operations and lost transit fees for six days of unprecedented shutdown.  

The Ever Given is currently in the Great Bitter Lake, roughly halfway along the canal. It will be allowed to continue its voyage once compensation has been agreed, Rabie warned, and will be held if a settlement is not reached.

“This is the right of the country,” Rabie said, adding that the incident hurt Egypt’s reputation. “This country should get its due.”

The official did not specify who the Canal Authority would seek compensation from. The 400-meter-long ship is owned by Japan’s Shoei Kisen Kaisha Limited. Taiwan’s Evergreen Marine Corporation, the vessel’s charterer, said Thursday that it was not responsible for delays of any cargo it was transporting.

Litigation could be complex, since the vessel is owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, and flagged in Panama.

Suez Canal Authority investigators have been given access to the Voyage Data Recorder, the a vessel's black box. The probe led by a team that included marine, legal, and engineering experts will shed light on why the vessel ran aground diagonally across the key international trade route, blocking hundreds of ships.

Read also: Egypt's commerce reputation survives Suez blockage: analysts

The ship carries goods worth $3.5 billion and its grounding in the canal held up billions of dollars in global trade every day since it got stuck on March 23 in the southern part of the canal.

On Monday, when the Ever Given was successfully refloated after almost a week of incessant work to free it, 1,134 ships passed through the Suez Canal, with the largest container vessels given priority passage.

It may take until the weekend to clear the backlog of hundreds of ships, Rabie said.

On Wednesday, divers inspected the hull of the vessel to examine the seaworthiness of the ship and determine the causes behind the incident.

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