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6501063 24.03.2016 In this handout photo released by Suez Canal Press Service, an operation to re-float Ever Given container ship that ran aground in Suez Canal continues, in Egypt. The 1,300-feet-long Ever Given has been stuck in the passageway since March 23, when it ran aground. Several attempts have been made to move it and the ship even budged a little on March 26. As attempts to unblock the Suez Canal continue, 321 ships are waiting to pass through. Editorial use only, no archive, no commercial use. Suez Canal Press Service (Photo by Suez Canal Press Service / Sputnik via AFP)

Africa

Egypt slashes compensation claim to $550 mn over Suez canal blockage

Cairo, Egypt, May 24 – Egypt has slashed millions of dollars off its compensation claim against the Japanese owner of a megaship that blocked the Suez canal in March, the canal authority chief said late Sunday.

Egyptian authorities had seized the 200,000-tonne MV Ever Given in April and lodged a claim in a local court demanding $916 million from its owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha in compensation for the ship’s release.

But Suez Canal Authority (SCA) head Osama Rabie said the claim had been dropped to $550 million in a televised interview with talk show host Amr Adib late Sunday. 

“After the owners of the ship estimated the costs of the cargo loaded to be around $775 million, we respected this and reduced the (compensation) claim to $550 million,” he said. 

The Ever Given became diagonally stuck in the narrow but crucial global trade artery in a sandstorm on March 23, triggering a mammoth six-day-long effort by Egyptian personnel and international salvage specialists to dislodge it.

The waterway connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and is used for more than 10 percent of world trade. 

Egypt lost between $12 million and $15 million in revenues for each day the canal was closed, according to SCA figures.

A court in Ismailia, where the SCA is headquartered, ruled Sunday the ongoing case against Shoei Kisen Kaisha would be moved to a more specialised court on May 29.

The SCA also announced Sunday in a statement that one of its rescue workers had died during the salvage efforts, but did not provide further details.

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Earlier this month, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved massive expansion of the canal to avoid future blockages.

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