A huge cargo ship veers aside and blocks the Egyptian Suez Canal

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A huge cargo ship has capsized aside in the Egyptian Suez Canal, blocking traffic in an important east-west waterway for global shipping, according to satellite data accessed on Wednesday.

Traffic came to a standstill on the narrow waterway separating the African continent from the Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday after the container ship MV Evergiven, a container ship flying the Panama flag and its owner in Japan, stopped.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Ever Given made the switch in the channel. GAC, a global shipping and logistics company, described the Evergiven vessel as experiencing a “power outage while it was crossing in a northern direction,” without going into detail. Others blamed the fierce winds in the heart of the ship.

Evergiven’s arc was touching the east wall of the canal, while its stern appeared to rest against its western wall, according to satellite data from MarineTraffic.com. The data showed that several tugboats surrounded the vessel, most likely trying to propel it in the right direction.

A photo posted on Instagram by a user on another cargo ship waiting around appeared to show the Evergreen ship anchored through the canal.

It was not possible to contact the canal authorities at dawn on Wednesday, and it appeared that the ship was stuck about six kilometers north of the southern mouth of the canal near the city of Suez.

Cargo ships and oil tankers appear to be lining up at the southern end of the Suez Canal, waiting to be able to pass through the waterway to the Mediterranean, according to Marine Traffic data.

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A United Nations database listed Ever Given as owned by Shoei Kisen KK, a ship charter company based in Imabari, Japan. The company was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. The ship had listed its destination as Rotterdam in the Netherlands before getting stuck in the canal.

Evergreen Marine Corp. Ever Given, a major Taiwan-based shipping company, is among the ships in its fleet and bears its own color scheme and logo.

Evergreen was not immediately available for comment, although Taiwan’s state-run Central News Agency quoted unidentified company sources as saying that strong winds overcame the ship when it entered the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, but none of its containers sank.

Ever Given, built in 2018 at nearly 400 meters (quarter mile) long and 59 meters (193 feet) wide, is among the largest cargo ships in the world.

The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869 and provides an important link for transporting oil, natural gas, and goods from east to west. About 10% of the world’s trade flows through the waterway and it remains one of the largest sources of foreign currency in Egypt. In 2015, the government of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the largest ships in the world.

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Associated Press writer Tajing Wu in Taipei, Taiwan contributed to this report.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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