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Suez Canal traffic jam 'cleared' days after Ever Given cargo ship freed

Some 422 ships — a maritime traffic jam visible from space — have now cleared the vital artery, the Suez Canal Authority said.
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The maritime traffic jam created when a giant container ship blocked the Suez Canal has now been cleared, Egyptian authorities said Saturday.

Some 422 ships, which were visible from space, have now cleared the vital artery, with the final 61 vessels passing through the waterway on Saturday, the Suez Canal Authority said.

The backlog built up after the massive Ever Given ship grounded in the narrow canal on Mar. 23, generating global interest as refloating efforts stalled, and costing billions in held-up world trade. The ship was finally freed on Monday.

"All waiting ships crossed the shipping course today," said Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, in a statement.

He added that clearing the backlog was achieved in "record time."

The 1,400-foot-long Ever Given, a Panama-flagged container ship taller than the Eiffel Tower, jammed diagonally across a southern section of the Suez Canal, leaving many cargo ships and bulk carriers, unable to use the key trading route.

International supply chains were thrown into disarray when the boat ran aground, with specialist rescue teams taking almost a week to free her after extensive dredging and repeated tugging operations.

The marooned ship made global headlines and spawned social media memes, while bringing traffic to an abrupt standstill in the crucial east-west waterway for global shipping — a route that accounts for about 12 percent of world trade and is particularly important for transporting oil.

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An investigation by the Suez Canal Authority began on Wednesday into what caused the vessel to run aground and block the waterway for six days, chairman Rabie told Egyptian MBC Masr private TV late on Friday.

"The investigation is going well and will take two more days, then we will announce the results," he added.

Early reports suggested strong winds and poor visibility from a sandstorm were to blame, not mechanical or engine failure, but the causes are now the subject of a high-profile investigation.

Reuters contributed to this report.