Because of the blockade of the Suez Canal by a container ship, eleven Romanian freighters with live animals are currently stuck on board – according to animal rights activists, there are 130,000 sheep. The veterinary authorities in Bucharest announced on Saturday evening that contact has already been made with the transport companies for the live animals. This would have assured “that there is enough food and water on board for the coming days”.
If the blockade of the Suez Canal by the stuck container ship “Ever Given” continues, further steps would have to be considered, said the veterinary authorities. One possibility would then be to divert the Romanian freighters and unload the animals in other than the planned arrival ports.
Animal rights activists fear the death of the 130,000 sheep on board the ships, according to them. “The situation is very threatening,” said Animals International. There is a threat of a “maritime catastrophe for living animals on an unprecedented scale”. Romania must immediately stop exporting live animals and instead switch to meat exports, the organization demanded.
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The hoped-for uncovering of the container ship “Ever Given” in the Suez Canal is progressing in small steps. The shipping and logistics company GAC spoke on Saturday of more than ten tugs and three dredgers that are in use to reopen one of the world’s most important waterways for trade.
There is “slight movement”. The freighter is still aground. The canal authority announced on Friday evening that nine large tugs were involved in the work.
Shipping on the canal was stopped after the 400-meter-long container ship ran aground on Tuesday. This has caused a long traffic jam. According to the authorities, around 320 ships are waiting for passage at both entrances to the canal, the Danish shipping company Maersk speaks of a “traffic chaos”. The ship “Ever Given” of the Taiwanese shipping company Evergreen sails under the Panamanian flag.
Admiral Usama Rabi, chairman of the canal authority, did not give a time frame for the exposure on Saturday. “We are working around the clock to end the crisis.” Several factors played a role in the maneuvers, especially the wind direction, the rocky bottom and the ebb and flow of the tide, said Rabi. It is a “complicated technical operation”. Unloading the cargo in order to expose the ship is also not ruled out.
Rabi said that the cause could not be ruled out due to a technical problem or human error. Egypt’s Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuli spoke of an extraordinary incident. The USA and other countries offered help to Egypt. According to CNN, the US Navy wanted to send a team of experts to the channel on Saturday to investigate the situation.
Some shipping companies send ships on other routes
The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and thus offers the shortest shipping route between Asia and Europe. In 2020 almost 19,000 ships passed through the canal, an average of around 50 a day. According to Allianz insurance, around 13 percent of the total world trade volume was carried through the canal in 2019.
With several expansions, the canal was to remain attractive for ever larger freighters and container giants. In 2015, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi opened the once again expanded channel in the hope of increasing income and international prestige. It would be a serious damage to the image of Egypt if the uncovering of the “Ever Given” were to take days or even weeks.
Some countries have already started to send the first ships on a detour around the Cape of Good Hope. According to the Hamburg shipping company Hapag-Lloyd, this will extend the trips by around a week. At the same time, the waters off the coast of West Africa, especially in the Gulf of Guinea, are particularly dangerous because of possible pirate attacks. (dpa, AFP)
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Traffic jam Suez Canal due animal rights activists fear death sheep Romanian freighters economy