Freeing Suez Canal ship 'extremely difficult'

The Japanese owner of a giant container ship that is stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal says attempts to refloat the ship are facing extreme difficulty.

The Ever Given is wedged sideways in the canal after being hit by a dust storm on Tuesday morning. The ship is owned by Shoei Kisen and operated by the Taiwanese firm Evergreen Marine Corp.

Several tug boats are working to refloat the 400-meter-long vessel. Digger boats have also been deployed to remove sand from around the stranded ship.

The Ever Given is blocking the path of scores of other ships, leaving them unable to enter or pass through the canal.

The vessel's owner, Shoei Kisen, said in a statement on Thursday that it will continue to make all-out efforts to refloat the Ever Given in cooperation with local authorities and the company that manages it.

The owner apologized for causing so much worry for the operators of ships that are currently stranded in the canal, or were scheduled to pass through it.

The Ever Given was built in 2018 by Imabari Shipbuilding Company, Japan's largest shipbuilder. Shoei Kisen is one of its subsidiaries, and leases vessels to shipping firms in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

The Suez Canal is one of the world's most important waterways, providing an avenue for ships to travel between Asia and Europe. More than 18,000 vessels pass through the canal each year. A prolonged blockage could seriously disrupt global supply chains.