CAIRO — As tugboats strained against the weight of the mammoth ship and dredgers worked to clear sand and mud, a salvage company working on the operation warned on Thursday that releasing the container vessel blocking traffic in the Suez Canal could take days or even weeks.
Dozens of ships laden with oil and goods destined for ports around the world are stranded in the canal, and with each passing hour, the economic cost of the disruption grows more consequential.
The stuck ship, the Ever Given, has been wedged in the canal since running aground amid the heavy winds of a sandstorm on Tuesday. Its bow is lodged in the canal’s eastern bank and its stern in the western bank.
Eight large tugboats were attempting to push and drag the ship from its unintended berth, the Suez Canal Authority said in a statement on Thursday, but at about 1,300 feet long — roughly equivalent to the height of the Empire State Building — and weighing around 200,000 metric tons, dislodging the Ever Given is proving challenging.
told the Dutch current affairs program Nieuwsuur on Wednesday that the operation to free the ship could take “days, even weeks.”
Mr. Berdowski, whose company has been involved in expanding the Suez Canal, said that Ever Given was stuck on both shallow sides of the V-shaped waterway. Fully loaded with 20,000 containers, the ship “is a very heavy beached whale,” he said.
stuck in the Elbe River in 2016, near the port of Hamburg, Germany. Salvaging that ship took 12 tugboats and three attempts, and part of the sandbank where the ship ran aground had to be dredged.
Mr. Berdowski said that the Ever Given was too heavy for tugboats alone, adding that salvagers might need to extract fuel, pump out water from the ballast tanks and remove some of the containers to make the ship lighter and therefore easier to move. And the dredging may require extra equipment, he said.