Panama has begun work on deepening the Panama Canal, the latest phase of a $5.25bn expansion project.

Work is being part funded by Japan and Latin America.

The overall project, due to finish in 2014, is expected to double the canal’s current capacity to take ships to 12,600 containers.

The widened canal is planned to serve as both an import and export route and allow the navigation of tankers with capacity of a million barrels of crude oil.