Cairo (AP) — Egyptian authorities confiscated a huge cargo ship that blocked the Suez Canal last month in a financial dispute with its owner, the canal chief and judicial authorities said Tuesday.
Vice Admiral Osama Rabies said the giant Ever Given would not be allowed to leave the country until the compensation amount was confirmed with Shoei Kisen Co., Ltd., the Japanese owner of the ship.
“The ship is now officially imprisoned,” he told Egyptian state television late Monday. “They don’t want to pay anything.”
There was no immediate comment from the shipowner.
Labay did not say how much money the canal authorities were looking for. However, law enforcement officials said they demanded at least $ 900 million. State-owned Ahram reported $ 900 million daily.
That amount takes into account rescue operations, the cost of stagnant canal traffic, and lost shipping charges for the week Evergiven blocked the canal.
Officials said the order to seize the ship was issued by a court in the city of Suez Canal in Ismailia on Monday, and the ship’s crew was notified on Tuesday.
He also said Ismailia’s prosecutor had begun another investigation into the cause of Evergiven’s grounding. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to brief in the media.
A Panama-flagged ship carrying about $ 3.5 billion in cargo between Asia and Europe ran aground on March 23 in a narrow artificial canal that separates the African continent from the Sinai Peninsula in Asia.
On March 29, the salvage team released Evergiven, blocking one of the world’s most important waterways and ending the crisis of stopping billions of dollars a day in maritime commerce.
The unprecedented six-day shutdown has caused concerns about extended delays, product shortages, and rising consumer costs, putting a strain on the shipping industry, which is already under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.
Rabies, the canal chief, told state television that there was no cheating by the canal authorities. He refused to discuss possible causes, such as the speed of the ship and the strong winds that hit the ship during a sandstorm.
When asked if the shipowner was faulty, he said, “Of course, yes.”
Rabies said the conclusions of the authorities’ investigation were expected on Thursday.