Suez Canal Authority says 85 ships passed the waterway from both sides, ending backlog of shipping that built up after giant vessel Ever Given ran aground in vital trade artery on March 23.

Ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen after it was fully floated in Suez Canal, Egypt, on March 29, 2021.
Ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen after it was fully floated in Suez Canal, Egypt, on March 29, 2021. (Reuters)

The last ships stranded by the grounding of a giant container vessel in the Suez Canal have passed through the waterway, according to the canal authority, which said an investigation into the incident would report its findings soon.

"All the ships waiting in the waterway since the grounding of the... (MV) Ever Given have completed passage," Suez Canal Authority (SCA) chief Osama Rabie said in a statement on Saturday.

Rabie said some 85 ships passed the canal from both sides. 

They include the last 61 ships out of the 422 that were queuing when the Ever Given container vessel was dislodged on Monday, thus ending the backlog of shipping that built up during the crisis, he added.

Probe results soon

International supply chains were thrown into disarray when the 400-metre-long Ever Given ran aground in the vital trade artery on March 23, with specialist rescue teams taking almost a week to free her after extensive dredging and repeated tugging operations.

At the time, canal officials said that more than 420 ships had been waiting for the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship to be freed so they could make the crossing.

An SCA investigation began on Wednesday into what caused the vessel to run aground in the Suez Canal and block the waterway for six days, Rabie told the MBC Masr private TV late on Friday.

"The investigation is going well and will take two more days, then we will announce the results," he added. 

READ MORE: What the closure of the Suez Canal costs global trade

Egypt expects $1 billion after blockage

Egypt says it is expecting more than $1 billion in compensation after the ship blocked the waterway for nearly a week, according to a top canal official. 

He also warned the ship and its cargo will not be allowed to leave Egypt if the issue of damages goes to court.

Rabie, head of the canal authority, said in a phone interview with a pro-government TV talk show that the amount takes into account the salvage operation, costs of stalled traffic, and lost transit fees for the week that the Ever Given had blocked the Suez Canal.

"It's the country’s right," Rabie said, without specifying who would be responsible for paying the compensation.

Rabie also said that if an investigation went smoothly and the compensation amount was agreed on, then the ship could travel on without problems.

However, if the issue of compensation involved litigation, then the Ever Given and its some $3.5 billion worth of cargo would not be allowed to leave Egypt, he told the show's host.

Litigation could be complex, since the vessel is owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, and flagged in Panama.

READ MORE: Egypt demands over $1B in damages after Suez Canal blockage

READ MORE: How the Suez Canal fiasco mirrors the state of Egypt today

Source: TRTWorld and agencies