News World Africa Cost of devastating Suez Canal blockage expected to top $1 billion
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Cost of devastating Suez Canal blockage expected to top $1 billion

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An investigation into how a giant container ship blocked the Suez Canal and choked international trade will examine its seaworthiness and captain’s actions.

Divers have inspected the hull of the Ever Given as the man tasked with investigating how the giant ship ran aground, choking off international trade through the Suez Canal for almost a week, boarded the vessel.

Lead investigator Captain Sayed Sheasha, who boarded the Ever Given on Wednesday afternoon (local time), said the investigation would examine the seaworthiness of the ship and its captain’s actions.

Divers had gone to check the hull of the ship while it was anchored in the Bitter Lakes area, a canal source said.

The Ever Given’s captain was committed to fully complying with the probe, Captain Sheasha said.

“The ship will remain in the lakes area until the investigations are complete,” Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie told local television late on Wednesday, adding there was no definite inquiry time frame.

General Rabie also said investigators had questioned the crew on Wednesday.

“The amount of damage and losses and how much the dredgers consumed will be calculated,” he said without specifying who would pay and whether Egypt has already sought compensation.

“Estimates, God willing, will reach a billion dollars and a little bit more, this is the country’s right.”

The six-day blockage threw global supply chains into disarray after the 400-metre-long ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The SCA said on Wednesday that shipping had returned to normal, with 81 ships transiting the canal on that day alone.

Egypt’s Leth Agencies said on Wednesday a total of 163 ships had transited the Suez Canal since its reopening and that 292 ships were still waiting.

Five liquefied natural gas vessels went through on Tuesday, commodities analysts Kpler said in a note, adding that it appeared congestion at the canal was “quickly tapering off”.

The SCA has scheduled accelerated shipping convoys and has said it hopes the backlog of ships can be cleared by the end of the week.

The blocking of the canal is expected to give rise to flurry of insurance claims, with Lloyd’s of London expecting a “large loss”, possibly amounting to $US100 million ($A131 million) or more, according to its chairman.