Sardinian Village Tries to Save an Ancient Tree Scorched by Fire

To the people of Cuglieri, a small hilltop village on the Italian island of Sardinia, the tree was simply “the Patriarch.”

Over the course of its long life — estimates of its age range from 1,800 to 2,000 years old — the olive tree became a behemoth, with a trunk 11 feet, or 3.4 meters, wide, and an integral part of an ancient landscape in western Sardinia. But after a large area of vegetation and numerous farms and villages in the region were devastated by one of the biggest wildfires in decades, time finally caught up with the Patriarch.

The ancient olive tree was engulfed in flames, and its giant trunk burned for almost two days.

In a fire that reached Cuglieri in late July, the agricultural community of about 2,600 residents lost 90 percent of its olive trees, the main source of income for most. More than 1,000 people were evacuated from the town, which is tucked between a mountain covered in cork and oak trees and the Mediterranean Sea.

Now local residents and the authorities are pinning their hopes for the survival of their ancient olive tree on Gianluigi Bacchetta, a professor at the University of Cagliari and the director of its botanical gardens, who is trying to bring the Patriarch back to life.

“The Patriarch is our identity,” said Maria Franca Curcu, who is responsible for cultural and social policies for the municipality of Cuglieri, her voice breaking. “If we can save him, we can give a message of hope to all the people who have lost everything in the fire.”

When Professor Bacchetta first visited the ancient olive tree in July, soil temperatures had reached 176 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 degrees Celsius, because of the fire.

“We needed to create an intensive care unit for the tree,” he said in a telephone interview. “It really is a living being that underwent serious trauma,” Professor Bacchetta said. “We are going to do our best and hope that it wakes up from its coma.”

The professor and his team first watered the soil to cool it down and then protected the trunk with jute tarps and the soil with straw. A nearby village gave a water tank for the tree, and a local plumber built an irrigation system that allows the soil to retain crucial humidity.

A local construction company donated equipment and worked for free to build a structure to shade the trunk from the scorching sun, replicating the role of leaves — now gone. Every 10 days, the tree is irrigated with organic fertilizers in the hope of encouraging the tree’s peripheral roots to grow.

“If the peripheral roots restart and manage to transfer materials to the stump,” Professor Bacchetta said, “we can hope for shoots to come out in September or October.”

The professor did not stop with the Patriarch. He visited all of the centuries-old olive groves in the area, advising farmers on how to save fire-damaged plants. His team and local authorities are planning a crowdfunding effort to buy equipment to restore the olive groves and their fields.

Giorgio Zampa, the owner of an olive farm that once belonged to his great-grandfather, lost all of his 500 oldest olive trees, planted over 350 years ago.

“Mr. Bacchetta unfortunately can’t do much for me,” Mr. Zampa said, “but I believe that the work on the Patriarch will psychologically help the entire community.”

Ten of his 14 Sardinian donkeys and almost all of his cattle from an ancient, endangered breed also died in the wildfire as they sought shelter in a nearby forest, which began burning shortly after. Mr. Zampa said he would focus his business on the remaining younger olive trees and start planting new ones.

“The village’s economy got burned to a cinder like the olive groves,” he said. “The fire damaged the landscape, the economy and our incomes in an incalculable way, like nothing we had seen before.”

Wildfires are not new to the Cuglieri area. They are a relatively common summer phenomenon on the arid island of Sardinia, but generally are not as apocalyptic as this season’s. The extraordinarily high flames, propelled by strong winds from the south, reached the village’s homes and burned to ashes everything standing in between, including the cemetery’s ossuary.

In the last big fire, in 1994, the Patriarch was spared, though the flames burned some century-old trees nearby.

“In Cuglieri, we have always felt that there is something sacred about it, and that protected it from the fire,” said Piera Perria, a retired local anthropologist who first contacted Professor Bacchetta to assess the Patriarch. “None of us could imagine that it could not make it this time.”

Giuseppe Mariano Delogu, a retired high-ranking official with Sardinia’s forestry corps, said that in the past 40 years, wildfires followed the same roads on the hill and the mountain near Cuglieri, but the flames never reached the olive groves.

Although civil protection and the response to fires in the area have improved over the years, bureaucratic hurdles aimed at protecting Mediterranean scrubland mean that inflammable vegetation is often not cleared, creating fire hazards, experts say. High temperatures this summer, partly because of hot winds blowing in from Africa, have intensified the risks of wildfires breaking out.

“The only way to extinguish such fires is to prevent them,” Mr. Delogu said. “Technology simply fails when the fire is so strong and so vast, regardless of how many firefighters you have, they will always struggle.”

Mr. Delogu was still hopeful for the Patriarch, though.

“They are incredible trees,” he said. “I am optimistic.”

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More Than 100 Migrants Are Feared Dead as Boat Capsizes in Mediterranean

CAIRO — More than 100 migrants heading for Europe are feared dead in a shipwreck off Libya, independent rescue groups have said, in the latest loss of life as attempts to cross the Mediterranean increase during the warmer months.

The Libyan Coast Guard searched for the boat but could not find it because of limited resources, an official with the service said.

The humanitarian group SOS Méditerranée, which operates the rescue vessel Ocean Viking, said late Thursday that the capsized rubber boat, which was initially carrying around 130 people, had been spotted in the Mediterranean, northeast of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The vessel did not find any survivors, but aid workers could see at least 10 bodies near the wreck.

“We think of the lives that have been lost and of the families who might never have certainty as to what happened to their loved ones,” the group said in a statement.

who is responsible for saving those in peril at sea.

SOS Méditerranée said it expected that those missing had died, adding to a toll of 350 people who have drowned in the sea so far this year. It accused governments of failing to provide search and rescue operations.

In the years since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed Libya’s longtime leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the war-torn country has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. Smugglers often pack desperate families onto ill-equipped rubber boats that stall and founder along the perilous Central Mediterranean route.

Eugenio Ambrosi, chief of staff for the International Organization for Migration, said in a tweet, “These are the human consequences of policies which fail to uphold international law and the most basic of humanitarian imperatives.”

AlarmPhone, which provides a crisis hotline for migrants in distress in the Mediterranean, said it had been in contact with the distressed boat for nearly 10 hours before it capsized.

dangerous sea crossings. Rights groups, however, say those policies leave migrants at the mercy of armed groups or confined in squalid detention centers rife with abuses.

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Biden to Declare Atrocities Against Armenia Were Genocide

WASHINGTON — More than a century after the Ottoman Empire’s killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian civilians, President Biden is preparing to declare that the atrocities were an act of genocide, according to officials familiar with the internal debate. The action would signal that the American commitment to human rights outweighs the risk of further fraying the U.S. alliance with Turkey

Mr. Biden is expected to announce the symbolic designation on Saturday, the 106th anniversary of the beginning of what historians call a yearslong and systematic death march that the predecessors of modern Turkey started during World War I. He would be the first sitting American president to do so, although Ronald Reagan made a glancing reference to the Armenian genocide in a 1981 written statement about the Holocaust, and both the House and the Senate approved measures in 2019 to make its recognition a formal matter of U.S. foreign policy.

At least 29 other countries have taken similar steps — mostly in Europe and the Americas, but also Russia and Syria, Turkey’s political adversaries.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the administration’s discussions said Mr. Biden had decided to issue the declaration, and others across the government and in foreign embassies said it was widely expected.

said in an interview with the Turkish broadcaster Haberturk. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs.”

The legal definition of genocide was not accepted until 1946, and officials and experts said Mr. Biden’s declaration would not carry any tangible penalties beyond humiliating Turkey and tainting its history with an inevitable comparison to the Holocaust.

“We stand firmly against attempts to pretend that this intentional, organized effort to destroy the Armenian people was anything other than a genocide,” a bipartisan group of 38 senators wrote in a letter to Mr. Biden last month, urging him to make the declaration. “You have correctly stated that American diplomacy and foreign policy must be rooted in our values, including respect for universal rights. Those values require us to acknowledge the truth and do what we can to prevent future genocides and other crimes against humanity.”

Mr. Biden appears intent on showing that his commitment to human rights — a pillar of his administration’s foreign policy — is worth any setback.

Turkey’s tenuous cease-fire with Russia has allowed for already-narrowing humanitarian access, and in the Black Sea, to which American warships must first pass through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles on support missions to Ukraine.

“It may be harder to get Erdogan to agree to specific policies,” Mr. Jeffrey said.

He also raised the prospect that Turkey could force meticulous reviews to slow non-NATO operations at Incirlik Air Base, a way station for American forces and equipment in the region. Or, Mr. Jeffrey said, Turkey could do something to provoke new sanctions or reimpose ones that have been suspended, like taking military action against Kurdish fighters allied with American forces against the Islamic State in northeast Syria.

Pentagon officials have also noted the value of Turkish forces remaining in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. and other coalition troops by Sept. 11; Kabul and Ankara have a longstanding relationship that will allow some troops to remain in Afghanistan after the NATO nations leave.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States flared in December, when the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Ankara for its purchase and then test of a Russian missile defense system that Western officials said could expose NATO’s security networks to Moscow. The sanctions were imposed in the final month of Mr. Trump’s presidency, three years after Turkey bought the missile system, and only after Congress required them as part of a military spending bill.

had pointedly promised to help Armenia last fall during its war against Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, noting the politically influential Armenian diaspora in the United States. His administration took a more evenhanded approach in trying to broker a peace agreement alongside Russia and France and, ultimately, Armenia surrendered the disputed territory in the conflict with Azerbaijan, which was backed by Turkey.

In the Wednesday interview, Mr. Aivazian, Armenia’s foreign minister, seized on Turkey’s military role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war as an example of what he described as “a source of expanding instability” in the region and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

He said the genocide designation would serve as a reminder to the rest of the world if malign values are not countered.

“I believe bringing dangerous states to the international order will make our world much more secure,” Mr. Aivazian said. “And we will be witnessing less tragedies, less human losses, once the United States will reaffirm its moral leadership in these turbulent times.”

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Biden Preparing to Declare That Atrocities Against Armenia Were Genocide

WASHINGTON — More than a century after the Ottoman Empire’s killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian civilians, President Biden is preparing to declare that the atrocities were an act of genocide, according to officials familiar with the internal debate. The action would signal that the American commitment to human rights outweighs the risk of further fraying the U.S. alliance with Turkey

Mr. Biden is expected to announce the symbolic designation on Saturday, the 106th anniversary of the beginning of what historians call a yearslong and systematic death march that the predecessors of modern Turkey started during World War I. He would be the first sitting American president to do so, although Ronald Reagan made a glancing reference to the Armenian genocide in a 1981 written statement about the Holocaust, and both the House and the Senate approved measures in 2019 to make its recognition a formal matter of U.S. foreign policy.

At least 29 other countries have taken similar steps — mostly in Europe and the Americas, but also Russia and Syria, Turkey’s political adversaries.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the administration’s discussions said Mr. Biden had decided to issue the declaration, and others across the government and in foreign embassies said it was widely expected.

said in an interview with the Turkish broadcaster Haberturk. “If the United States wants to worsen ties, the decision is theirs.”

The legal definition of genocide was not accepted until 1946, and officials and experts said Mr. Biden’s declaration would not carry any tangible penalties beyond humiliating Turkey and tainting its history with an inevitable comparison to the Holocaust.

“We stand firmly against attempts to pretend that this intentional, organized effort to destroy the Armenian people was anything other than a genocide,” a bipartisan group of 38 senators wrote in a letter to Mr. Biden last month, urging him to make the declaration. “You have correctly stated that American diplomacy and foreign policy must be rooted in our values, including respect for universal rights. Those values require us to acknowledge the truth and do what we can to prevent future genocides and other crimes against humanity.”

Mr. Biden appears intent on showing that his commitment to human rights — a pillar of his administration’s foreign policy — is worth any setback.

Turkey’s tenuous cease-fire with Russia has allowed for already-narrowing humanitarian access, and in the Black Sea, to which American warships must first pass through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles on support missions to Ukraine.

“It may be harder to get Erdogan to agree to specific policies,” Mr. Jeffrey said.

He also raised the prospect that Turkey could force meticulous reviews to slow non-NATO operations at Incirlik Air Base, a way station for American forces and equipment in the region. Or, Mr. Jeffrey said, Turkey could do something to provoke new sanctions or reimpose ones that have been suspended, like taking military action against Kurdish fighters allied with American forces against the Islamic State in northeast Syria.

Pentagon officials have also noted the value of Turkish forces remaining in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. and other coalition troops by Sept. 11; Kabul and Ankara have a longstanding relationship that will allow some troops to remain in Afghanistan after the NATO nations leave.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States flared in December, when the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Ankara for its purchase and then test of a Russian missile defense system that Western officials said could expose NATO’s security networks to Moscow. The sanctions were imposed in the final month of Mr. Trump’s presidency, three years after Turkey bought the missile system, and only after Congress required them as part of a military spending bill.

had pointedly promised to help Armenia last fall during its war against Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, noting the politically influential Armenian diaspora in the United States. His administration took a more evenhanded approach in trying to broker a peace agreement alongside Russia and France and, ultimately, Armenia surrendered the disputed territory in the conflict with Azerbaijan, which was backed by Turkey.

In the Wednesday interview, Mr. Aivazian, Armenia’s foreign minister, seized on Turkey’s military role in the Nagorno-Karabakh war as an example of what he described as “a source of expanding instability” in the region and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

He said the genocide designation would serve as a reminder to the rest of the world if malign values are not countered.

“I believe bringing dangerous states to the international order will make our world much more secure,” Mr. Aivazian said. “And we will be witnessing less tragedies, less human losses, once the United States will reaffirm its moral leadership in these turbulent times.”

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Suez Canal Ship Is Free

The mammoth cargo ship blocking one of the world’s most vital maritime arteries was wrenched from the shoreline and finally set free on Monday, raising hopes that traffic could soon resume in the Suez Canal and limit the economic fallout of the disruption.

Salvage teams, working on land and water for six days and nights, were ultimately assisted by forces more powerful than any machine rushed to the scene: the moon and the tides.

The ship was ultimately set free at around 3 p.m., according to shipping officials. Horns blared in celebration as images emerged on social media of the once stuck ship on the move.

But just as the tides rose and fell, optimism waxed and waned throughout the day on Monday as each bit of encouraging news was met with words of caution.

full-blown crisis.

Vessels packed with the world’s goods — including cars, oil, livestock and laptops — usually flow through the canal with ease, supplying much of the globe as they traverse the quickest path from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the East Coast of the United States.

With concerns that the salvage operation could take weeks, some ships decided not to wait, turning to take the long way around the southern tip of Africa, a voyage that can add weeks to the journey and more than $26,000 a day in fuel costs.

Each bit of progress in moving the ship over the weekend was celebrated by the workers on the canal — tugboat horns blaring and shouts of joy often echoing in the desert dark.

Late Saturday, tugboat drivers sounded off in celebration of what was up to that point the most visible sign of progress since the Ever Given ran aground late Tuesday.

The 1,300-foot ship moved. It did not go far — just two degrees, or about 100 feet, according to shipping officials. But that came on top of progress from Friday, when canal officials said dredgers had managed to dig out the rear of the ship, freeing its rudder.

celebrated the moment on Twitter, writing that “Egyptians have succeeded today in ending the crisis of the stuck ship in the Suez Canal despite the great complexities surrounding this situation in every aspect.”

Egyptian national television started broadcasting live coverage of the salvage operation, a signal of the government’s confidence that the situation would soon be resolved.

Teams of engineers and experts were still huddling on the banks of the canal, going over the intricate details of the sprawling salvage effort.

The company that oversees the ship’s operations and crew, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said 11 tugboats had helped, with two joining the struggle on Sunday. Several dredgers, including a specialized suction dredger that can extract 2,000 cubic meters of material per hour, dug around the vessel’s bow, the company said.

With the Ever Given sagging in the middle, its bow and stern both caught in positions for which they were not designed, the hull had been vulnerable to stress and cracks, according to experts. Just as every high tide brought hope the ship could be released, each low tide put new stresses on the vessel.

Teams of divers inspected the hull throughout the operation and found no damage, officials said. The ship was to be inspected again after it was freed.

The plan is to tow the ship to the Great Bitter Lake, located along the canal’s route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, so traffic could once gain flow smoothly.

However, it would take some time to also inspect the canal itself to ensure safe passage. And with hundreds of ships backed up on either side, it could be days before operations return to normal.

Thomas Erdbrink contributed reporting.

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How Suez Canal Ship Caused Global Supply Traffic Jam

The sun rose as one of the world’s largest container ships entered the Suez Canal toward the Mediterranean Sea. But aboard the Ever Given, an overnight desert storm obscured Tuesday’s daybreak and buffeted a vessel four football fields long.

Staring out the bridge windows, the captain navigated the critical choke point for global shipping. Beside him stood two Egyptian pilots mandated to accompany all large vessels on the half-day journey. Then a gust of wind turned the stack of 17,000 containers into an unwanted sail.

“Keep her steady!” shouted the captain, according to people who heard the conversation on the bridge.

Minutes later the bow banged into the eastern wall of the canal, shuddering the ship and blocking traffic on the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most critical links in the global supply chain.

“We’re stuck big time,” said an officer on the bridge, according to the people who heard the talk there.

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Israel’s Shadow War With Iran Moves Out to Sea

JERUSALEM — The sun was rising on the Mediterranean one recent morning when the crew of an Iranian cargo ship heard an explosion. The ship, the Shahr e Kord, was about 50 miles off the coast of Israel, and from the bridge they saw a plume of smoke rising from one of the hundreds of containers stacked on deck.

The state-run Iranian shipping company said the vessel had been heading to Spain and called the explosion a “terrorist act.”

But the attack on the Shahr e Kord this month was just one of the latest salvos in a long-running covert conflict between Israel and Iran. An Israeli official said the attack was retaliation for an Iranian assault on an Israeli cargo ship last month.

Since 2019, Israel has been attacking ships carrying Iranian oil and weapons through the eastern Mediterranean and Red Seas, opening a new maritime front in a regional shadow war that had previously played out by land and in the air.

Iranian efforts to circumvent American sanctions on its oil industry.

But the conflict’s expansion risks the escalation of what has been a relatively limited tit-for-tat, and it further complicates efforts by the Biden administration to persuade Iran to reintroduce limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“This is a full-fledged cold war that risks turning hot with a single mistake,” said Ali Vaez, Iran program director at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based research organization. “We’re still in an escalatory spiral that risks getting out of control.”

Since 2019, Israeli commandos have attacked at least 10 ships carrying Iranian cargo, according to an American official and a former senior Israeli official. The real number of targeted ships may be higher than 20, according to an Iranian Oil Ministry official, an adviser to the ministry and an oil trader.

first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Most of the ships were carrying fuel from Iran to its ally Syria, and two carried military equipment, according to an American official and two senior Israeli officials. An American official and an Israeli official said the Shahr e Kord was carrying military equipment toward Syria.

The Israeli government declined to comment.

has accelerated in recent years. Iran has been arming and financing militias throughout the region, notably in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza and Lebanon, where it supports Hezbollah, a Shiite militia and political movement that is a longtime enemy of Israel.

Israel has tried to counter Iran’s power play by launching regular airstrikes on Iranian shipments by land and air of arms and other cargo to Syria and Lebanon. Those attacks have made those routes riskier and shifted at least some of the weapons transit, and the conflict, to the sea, analysts said.

Israel has also sought to undermine Iran’s nuclear program through assassinations and sabotage on Iranian soil, and both sides are accused of cyberattacks, including a failed Iranian attack on an Israeli municipal water system last April and a retaliatory Israeli strike on a major Iranian port.

Iran’s Quds force was blamed for a bomb that exploded near Israel’s embassy in New Delhi in January. And 15 militants linked to Iran were arrested last month in Ethiopia for plotting to attack Israeli, American and Emirati targets.

The sum is an undeclared conflict that neither side wants to escalate into frontal combat.

a major Iranian nuclear site in July and the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last November. Israel has not publicly acknowledged either operation.

The Israeli offensive against Iranian shipping has two goals, analysts and officials said. The first is to prevent Tehran from sending equipment to Lebanon to help Hezbollah build a precision missile program, which Israel considers a strategic threat.

The second is to dry up an important source of oil revenue for Tehran, building on the pressure American sanctions have inflicted. After the United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s fuel industry in late 2018, the Iranian government became more reliant on clandestine shipping.

Sima Shine, a former head of research at Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency.

The attacks typically feature limpet mines and sometimes torpedoes, the American official said. They generally target the ships’ engines or propellers, one Israeli official said. And they are intended to cripple but not sink the ships, the American and Israeli officials said.

a recent oil spill that left tons of tar on the beaches of Israel and Lebanon.

Within Israel, there is concern among maritime experts that the cost of a sea war may exceed its benefit.

While the Israeli Navy can make its presence felt in the Mediterranean and Red Seas, it is less effective in waters closer to Iran. And that could make Israeli-owned ships more vulnerable to Iranian attacks as they pass Iran’s western shores on their way to ports in the Gulf, said Shaul Chorev, a retired Israeli admiral who now heads the Maritime Policy and Strategy Research Center at the University of Haifa.

“Israeli strategic interests in the Persian Gulf and related waterways will undoubtedly grow,” he wrote in a statement, “and the Israeli Navy does not have the capabilities to protect these interests.”

Patrick Kingsley reported from Jerusalem, Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv, Farnaz Fassihi from New York, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

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What to Know About the Suez Canal — and How a Ship Got Stuck There

The 120-mile-long artificial waterway known as the Suez Canal has been a potential flash point for geopolitical conflict since it opened in 1869. Now the canal, a vital international shipping passage, is in the news for a different reason: A quarter-mile-long, Japanese-owned container ship en route from China to Europe has been grounded in the canal for days, blocking more than 100 vessels and sending tremors through the world of maritime commerce.

Here are some basics on the history of the canal, how it operates, how the vessel got stuck and what it means.

The canal is in Egypt, connecting Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean via the southern Egyptian city of Suez on the Red Sea. The passage enables more direct shipping between Europe and Asia, eliminating the need to circumnavigate Africa and cutting voyage times by days or weeks.

a description of the canal by GlobalSecurity.org.

estimated 1.5 million workers.

According to the Suez Canal Authority, the Egyptian government agency that operates the waterway, 20,000 peasants were drafted every 10 months to help construct the project with “excruciating and poorly compensated labor.” Many workers died of cholera and other diseases.

Political tumult in Egypt against the colonial powers of Britain and France slowed progress on the canal, and the final cost was roughly double the initial $50 million projected.

The British powers that controlled the canal through the first two world wars withdrew forces there in 1956 after years of negotiations with Egypt, effectively relinquishing authority to the Egyptian government led by President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

first-ever peacekeeping force to the area. The outcome was seen as a triumph for Egyptian nationalism, but its legacy was an undercurrent in the Cold War.

The Suez crisis was also a theme in Season 2, Episode 1 of “The Crown,” the acclaimed Netflix series about Britain’s royals, as the British prime minister at the time, Anthony Eden, struggled over how to respond.

Egypt closed the canal for nearly a decade after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, when the waterway was basically a front line between Israeli and Egyptian military forces. Fourteen cargo ships, which became known as the “Yellow Fleet,” were trapped in the canal until it was reopened in 1975 by Mr. Nasser’s successor, Anwar el-Sadat.

A few accidental groundings of vessels have closed the canal since then. The most notable, until this week, was a three-day shutdown in 2004 when a Russian oil tanker ran aground.

Evergreen Shipping line, is one of the world’s largest container ships, about the length of the Empire State Building.

Although the canal was originally engineered to handle much smaller vessels, its channels have been widened and deepened several times, most recently six years ago at a cost of more than $8 billion.

Poor visibility and high winds, which made the Ever Given’s stacked containers act like sails, are believed to have pushed it off course and led to its grounding.

Salvagers have tried a number of remedies: pulling it with tugboats, dredging underneath the hull and using a front-end loader to excavate the eastern embankment, where the bow is stuck. But the vessel’s size and weight, 200,000 metric tons, had frustrated salvagers as of Thursday night.

Some marine salvage experts have said nature might succeed where tugs and dredgers have failed. A seasonal high tide on Sunday or Monday could add roughly 18 inches of depth to the canal, perhaps floating the ship.

That depends on how long the canal, which is believed to handle about 10 percent of global maritime commercial traffic, is closed. TradeWinds, a maritime industry news publication, said that with more than 100 ships waiting to traverse the canal, it could take more than a week just for that backlog to clear.

A prolonged closure could be hugely expensive for the owners of ships waiting to transit the canal. Some may decide to cut their losses and reroute their vessels around Africa.

$5.61 billion in revenue from canal tolls in 2020, also has a vital interest in refloating the Ever Given and reopening the waterway.

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Suez Canal Blocked After Container Ship Gets Stuck

CAIRO — An enormous container ship became stuck while traversing the Suez Canal late Tuesday, blocking traffic through one of the world’s most important shipping arteries and threatening to add one more burden to a global shipping industry already battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The ship, which was heading from China to the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, ran aground amid poor visibility and high winds from a sandstorm that struck much of northern Egypt this week, according to George Safwat, a spokesman for the authority that oversees the canal. The storm caused an “inability to direct the ship,” he said in a statement.

By Wednesday morning, more than 100 ships were stuck at each end of the canal, which connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and carries roughly 10 percent of worldwide shipping traffic.

Dozens of tugboats raced to try and wrench it free as crews on the land brought heavy equipment to dig out the land where it sat wedged.

posted on Tuesday evening. “Looks like we might be here for a little bit …”

The Suez Canal is a key artery for oil flows from the Persian Gulf region to Europe and North America. Roughly 5 percent of globally traded crude oil and 10 percent of refined petroleum products passed through the canal before the pandemic, estimated David Fyfe, chief economist at Argus Media, a market research firm.

After the canal was snarled, there was a 2.85 percent jump in the price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, on Wednesday to $62.52 a barrel.

But Mr. Fyfe said that because the demand for oil remained relatively weak amid the pandemic, a short-term outage is unlikely to have a lasting impact on the market.

“I don’t think this is going to fundamentally change market sentiment,” he said. “A lot will depend on how quickly they can get the vessel cleared.”

Vivian Yee reported from Cairo, and Peter S. Goodman from London. Nada Rashwan contributed reporting from Cairo, and Stanley Reed from London.

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