A ferry boat in the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt, 29 March 2021. EFE-EPA FILE/Mohamed Hossam

Grounded tanker causes hours-long closure of Suez Canal

Cairo, Aug 23 (EFE).- A tanker ran aground in the Suez Canal leading to an hours-long closure of this important maritime route early Wednesday.

A “malfunction” led to the stranding of the Singapore-flagged tanker BW Lesmes in the waterway at dawn – the seventh such incident this year -, state-run channel Cairo 24 reported.

The Suez Canal Authority’s tugboats towed it until the malfunction was fixed, the channel said, citing the head of the authority, Lieutenant General Osama Rabie.

The channel also showed photos of the ship after it was successfully refloated.

Since then, shipping traffic has returned to normal.

According to maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic, which cited witnesses, BW Lesmes, which has a capacity of 170,799 cubic meters of Liquefied Natural Gas, collided with Cayman Islands-flagged oil products tanker Burri.

The Suez Canal, an important source of foreign currency revenue for Egypt, has been the scene of multiple incidents this year, although not all of them have disrupted traffic through the canal.

The last serious incident occurred in the first week of August when a tugboat collided with an oil tanker crossing the waterway, leading to the temporary suspension of traffic in the canal.

That incident, which caused the death of a tug crew member, occurred two months after oil tanker Seavigour paralyzed traffic in the canal after suffering a technical glitch due to which it had to be refloated.

The most serious incident took place in March 2021 when the container ship Ever Given ran aground and blocked traffic in the waterway for six days.

Around 10 percent of the world’s cargo passes through the Suez Canal, which earns Egypt $8 billion annually. EFE