Ever Given released from Suez canal after compensation agreed

Suez Canal authorities have released the cargo ship that blocked the waterway for nearly a week in March.

The Ever Given was seen leaving the canal after its Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, agreed compensation with the canal authorities following more than three months of negotiations and a court standoff.

The settlement deal was signed in a ceremony on Wednesday in the Suez canal city of Ismailia, after which the vessel was seen sailing north to the Mediterranean.

On Tuesday an Egyptian court had lifted the judicial seizure of the vessel following the Suez Canal Authority’s notification that it had reached a settlement in its financial dispute with the vessels’ owners and insurers.

The authority did not reveal details of the terms of the settlement. It had initially demanded $916m (£660m) in compensation, which was later lowered to $550m. In addition to the money, local reports said the canal would also receive a tugboat.

Canal authorities said the money would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees during the blockage.

The Ever Given was on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on 23 March when it slammed into the bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal about four miles north of the southern entrance, near the city of Suez.

Its bow had touched the eastern wall of the canal, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall – an extraordinary event that experts said they had never heard of happening in the canal’s 150-year history.

A salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats helped by the tides freed the ship six days later, allowing hundreds of waiting ships to pass through the canal. The Ever Given was then held in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake.

The blockage of the canal forced some ships to take the long alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, requiring additional fuel and other costs. Hundreds of other ships waited in place for the blockage to end.

The shutdown, which raised worries of supply shortages and rising costs for consumers, added strain on the shipping industry, already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

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