It was a delicate mission, with crews trying to move the ship without unbalancing it or breaking it apart.

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

Teams of divers have been inspecting the hull throughout the operation and have found no damage, officials said. It would need to be inspected again once it was completely free.

And 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, despite the promises of the authorities to quickly clear the backlog, it will likely take days to clear the backlog.

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