The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has announced that the stuck container vessel Ever Given has been freed from the shoreline, allowing the vessel’s direction to be straightened by 80%.
The Dutch firm Smit Salvage, along with rescue workers from the authority, has been using tugboats to remove the rear of the 400m-long vessel from the canal bank, reported the BBC.
To speed up the process, dredgers have also been excavating sand and mud from under the vessel’s bow.
The SCA added that the vessel had been refloated completely after the distance between the stern and shore was increased from 4m to 102m.
Efforts to move the ship recommenced when the tide was due to rise at 11:30am local time on 29 March.
The SCA stated that after the tide reached 2m, rescue workers would aim to fully restore ‘the vessel’s direction so it is positioned in the middle of the navigable waterway’.
According to the authority, the vessel will eventually be moved towards a waiting area of the canal.
Currently, around 367 vessels are waiting to sail through the canal.
Officials have said the traffic jam should be cleared in three and a half days.
SCA chairman Osama Rabie told Egyptian state television there was a possibility of shipping activities resuming by noon at the earliest.
However, Smit Salvage CEO Peter Berdowski informed Dutch public radio that the operation is still far from complete.
Berdowski said: “We have movement, which is good news. But I wouldn’t say it’s a piece of cake now.”
He explained that high-pressure water will be used for the removal of sand and clay from beneath the vessel’s bow, which is still stuck.
If this process fails, then containers will have to be removed, which will take more time.
Last week, the Suez Canal was blocked by the huge container vessel Ever Given, leading to several vessels getting stuck.
The 200,000t vessel was navigating through the canal towards the Mediterranean and bound for Rotterdam in the Netherlands from China.