Tug boats try to refloat ship blocking Suez Canal

Officials in Egypt says the dredging work to free a giant container ship stranded sideways in the Suez Canal has been completed.

Officials with the Suez Canal Authority said on Friday night that nine large tug boats are now trying to refloat the Ever Given, owned by Shoei Kisen in the western Japanese prefecture of Ehime and operated by a Taiwanese company.

They say it is unclear whether the vessel can be freed soon, as the success of the operation depends on the direction of the wind and the tide.

A company overseeing shipping through the canal says 276 vessels have been unable to pass through since the Ever Given became stranded on Tuesday. The number is increasing by about 50 per day.

Some ships have given up trying to sail through the canal and are instead heading to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, which takes significantly longer. This has raised concerns about the impact on logistics.

The canal authorities will hold a news conference on Saturday afternoon for the first time since the accident occurred.