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Suez Canal Authority lays blame for container ship accident on captain

The investigation establishes those who are responsible for the accident and so designates the sides, which will pay compensation

CAIRO, March 30. /TASS/. Investigators will find those who are responsible for the accident in the Suez Canal, which has been blocked for six days by a container ship that ran aground, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) Chairman Osama Rabie told a press conference on Monday.

"The investigation establishes those who are responsible for the accident and so designates the sides, which will pay compensation," Rabie assured. "The Suez Canal is not to be blame for the accident, it is the affected party."

Meanwhile, the Suez Canal Authority indirectly assigned responsibility for the accident to the captain. "Strong winds have never led to closing the canal," Rabia noted. "Yes, this could have been a factor that led to the accident. But don’t forget that the captain bears sole responsibility for directing the vessel. The marine pilot fulfils a consultative function while it’s up to the captain to make the final decision."

According to Rabie, the Suez Canal Authority is considering the possibility of granting benefits for shipping lines. He also pledged that the crisis with the "traffic jams" in the northern and southern ends of the canal would be ironed out within three days.

The Ever Given container ship, which is owned by the Japanese company Shohei Kisen and sails under the Panamanian flag, blocked the single-line southern part of the Suez Canal on March 23. Due to strong winds and sandstorms the vessel veered off its course and was lodged at an angle across the waterway. Attempts to pull the vessel out with the help of tugs failed. A dredger was used and as a result more than 17,000 tonnes of sand were extracted from under the ship’s head.

Work continued on clearing the canal and putting the vessel with a displacement of 220,000 tonnes and a length of 400 meters to the seaway. Some two hours ago tug boats freed the container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway. The vessel started sailing to the north, where it will undergo technical examination. According to the Marinetraffic vessel tracking web site, several minutes ago the ship entered the Great Bitter Lake. As of now, more than 400 ships are awaiting passage through the canal.