Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered preparations for offloading the giant container ship Ever Given, which is stuck sideways in the Suez Canal, Osama Rabie, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chairman, told Extra News TV channel on Sunday.
Offloading the cargo is currently the third option for dislodging the massive vessel. The first two options are towing the ship from both sides using tugs, while the second is digging out sand and mud from beneath the bow using dredgers.
According to Rabie, the president has opted to start preparations for the third option in case the first two options fail.
"As long as the third scenario is on the table, we [should] provide its equipment in case we need it," El-Sisi said, according to the SCA chairman.
"We will talk with the Americans to provide the vessels [needed] for evacuation just in case we [resort to offloading]," the chairman added. The United States is among the countries that have offered to help dislodge the container ship.
According to experts, offloading the ship is the worst-case scenario as it is expected to take the longest time.
With additional equipment arriving earlier today, tugging and dredging operations are continuing for the sixth day in a row in an effort to dislodge the ship, whose bow is stuck in the sandy canal bank.
The 400-metre-long, 59-metre-wide ship Ever Given, which was coming from China, veered off course and ran aground as it was traversing the international trade route on Tuesday morning.
The incident has caused around 321 vessels to be queued at the waterway or at anchor awaiting transit.
About 12 percent of world trade passes through the Suez Canal, which is the fastest water artery between Europe and Asia.
The canal is a main source of foreign currency for Egypt, bringing in $5.6 billion in revenues in 2020.
The strategic waterway is losing $12 to $14 million daily in revenues due to the incident, Rabie said during Saturday’s presser.