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Egypt's Suez Canal Authority chief Osama Rabie holds a press conference over the grounding of Taiwan-owned MV 'Ever Given' (Evergreen) cargo ship in the waterway, in Suez on March 27, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

Suez: Progress is being made in the attempt to free the container vessel blocking the Suez Canal, the head of the Suez Canal Authority said Saturday, but declined to set a timetable for when the operation will be over. He also said strong wind was not the main reason for the grounding of the MV Ever Given cargo ship in the waterway.

“Strong winds and weather factors were not the main reasons for the ship’s grounding, there may have been technical or human errors,” Osama Rabie said at a press conference in Suez.

A new attempt to re-float the 400-metre-long vessel could happen today or Sunday and authorities have raised to 10 the number of tug boats involved in operations, Rabie told reporters. But given the size and tonnage of the ship, he said the SCA was facing a “difficult” task.

The CEO said the authority would investigate the causes of Tuesday’s incident after the ship is refloated, adding there were many possible explanations.

A total of 321 ships remain in the canal, and authorities are working to provide them with all necessary services, Rabie said. Offers of help from the US, China and others are being studied, according to Rabie.

The Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is a major source of foreign currency for Egypt. The blockage is costing canal authorities between $12 million and $14 million in lost revenue per day, Rabie said.