White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday the United States has offered to help Egyptian officials dislodge the Ever Given cargo ship that has been stuck sideways and blocking traffic in the Suez Canal since Tuesday. Psaki did not elaborate on what form of the assistance the United States is offering. The Egyptian government agreed to accept an offer of help relayed through the US Embassy in Cairo.
Dislodging the vessel blocking the canal may take at least a week, longer than initially feared, people familiar with the matter said. While much of the waylaid cargo is commodity products such as oil that can be stored on ships for long periods, livestock need food and water, and such deliveries usually carry only enough for a few extra days. That could create a critical situation for ships to find feed supplies at a local port, or force them to turn around. The Ever Given, a container ship almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground on Tuesday after being caught in 40-knot winds and a sandstorm that caused low visibility and poor navigation. Up to 20,000 cubic meters (706,000 cubic feet) of sand in the Suez Canal need to be removed to free the ship, which has blocked one of the world’s busiest waterways, prompting frantic salvage efforts including the use of two dredgers, nine tug boats and four diggers on the canal bank.