Egypt’s president has ordered Suez Canal Authority (SCA) officials to prepare to begin the process of unloading a massive container ship that is currently stuck in the canal, blocking all traffic through one of the world’s most important waterways.
Unloading the ship, a massive, time-consuming and costly endeavor that would allow workers to float the ship more easily, is viewed as last-resort option behind other efforts to free the 1,300 foot-long ship.
The head of the Suez Canal Authority said Sunday that Prime Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sissi had ordered officials to begin preparations for the removal of containers, The Washington Post reported, while efforts continue to refloat the vessel during high tide with the aid of dredgers and an excavator on land.
“His excellency has ordered that we should not wait for the failure of the first and second scenarios to start thinking about implementing the third one [unloading],” said the SCA chief.
Hundreds of other cargo ships currently remain on either side of the canal waiting to pass through, a situation that has led to major delays and fears that many vessels will not be able to afford the increased maintenance and other costs associated with being at sea for much longer than expected.
While the ship remains stuck, officials have touted the progress made in recent days including at least partial power restoration to the vessel as well as the restoration of rudder movement.