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What is the Suez Canal, how was it blocked?

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Suez, Mar 30: In a recent development, the Suez Canal has been thrust into the global spotlight after a cargo ship became stranded, blocking travel through one of the world's most important trade routes in both directions.

Suez

In a statement, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said that the 400-metre long Ever Given, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, ran around diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning. It had lost the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm.

Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to free the ship, said it was too early to say how long the job might take. "We can't exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation," Berdowski told in a Dutch television programme.

Suez Canal: Stuck container ship set free, on the moveSuez Canal: Stuck container ship set free, on the move

The incident has caused ships to back-up as they wait to transit through the canal.
Ship-tracking data reveals a huge traffic jam of ships building on either side of the Ever Given.

However, let's take a look at the canal in numbers, using figures from the Suez Canal Authority.

In the year 1869, the canal opened for navigation.

The total length of the canal is 193.3 km.

Suez Canal: Satellite images show traffic at canal, massive rescue effortsSuez Canal: Satellite images show traffic at canal, massive rescue efforts

It takes around 12 to 16 hours for a vessel to transit through the canal.

The width of the water's surface is 313m, although the width of the navigation channel is between 200m and 210m.

Roughly 30 per cent of the world's shipping container volume that transits through the canal.

12 per cent of total global trade of all goods that passes through the canal.

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    A distance of 3,315 nautical miles saving for a vessel travelling from Tokyo to Rotterdam via the canal rather than via the southern tip of Africa, a 23 per cent saving.

    The additional journey time if some firms are forced to re-route ships caught in the delay via the southern tip of Africa is one week.

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