Traffic has now resumed for more than 400 ships stuck at the northern and southern ends of Egypt’s Suez Canal.
It comes almost a week after a skyscraper-sized container ship known as the Ever Given ran aground and became wedged diagonally across the canal, which is the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.
About a dozen tugboat crews sounded their horns in celebration after helping to free the Ever Given vessel, which must now be thoroughly inspected for seaworthiness.
The Suez Canal Authority’s chairman Osama Rabie said the channel, however, was navigable.
“The ship came out intact and it has no problems. We’ve just searched the bottom and soil of the Suez Canal and thankfully it is sound and has no issues, and ships will pass through it today,” he told Nile TV.
Live footage and satellite data showed that ships were slowly moving by early Tuesday morning.
But the challenges are not over yet. Authorities are now tasked with easing congestion in both directions of the Egyptian trade route.
At least 400 vessels are waiting to transit the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers, oil tankers and gas vessels.
It could take up to three days to clear the backlog and a canal source said more than 100 ships would be able to enter the channel daily.
How the Ever Given was freed
The massive ship had become jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal amid high winds and a dust storm.
The ship’s bow and stern had been lifted up against either side of the canal, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.
Traffic on the Suez Canal was immediately halted.
Eight tug boats were initially deployed to free the Ever Given.
Dredgers worked to clear sand and mud from around it while tugboats in conjunction with Ever Given’s winches worked to shift it.
A total of 11 tugs and two powerful sea tugs were used to successfully pull the vessel out from the side of the canal.