The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has received approval from the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for its earlier announced plans to expand the southern section of the canal, where the Ever Given ran aground.

Under the expansion project, the southernmost area of the canal, which is currently 30m long, will be widened by about 40m to the east, beside the Sinai Peninsula, reported The Associated Press.

The area will also be deepened up to 72ft, from the current 66ft.

As part of the plan, the second lane of the waterway, which started operating in 2015, will also be extended by 10km.

With this extension project, the double-lane stretch of the canal will be extended to 82km and provide more passage for vessels to move through the canal.

SCA head Lt Gen Osama Rabie revealed that the project will continue for around 24 months.

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On 23 March, the Suez Canal was blocked by the container vessel Ever Given, crippling the waterway for nearly six days.

The Dutch firm Smit Salvage, along with rescue workers from the SCA, deployed tugboats to remove the rear of the ship from the canal bank.

The ship was moved to an unobstructive anchorage in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake after it was freed from the shoreline on 29 March.

Thereafter, the Egyptian court ordered the Japanese vessel owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha, to pay $900m in compensation for incurred losses.

The 200,000t vessel was navigating through the canal towards the Mediterranean and bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.

According to the SCA, nearly 19,000 vessels passed through the canal in 2020.

The Suez Canal, which facilitates around 10% of global trade, connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, offering the shortest sea route between Europe and Asia.