Last of the 422 stranded ships finally pass through waterway

More than 400 ships blocked at Egypt's Suez Canal have now passed through the waterway, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said.

Osama Rabie, the chairman of the SCA, said 85 ships were expected to pass through the canal from both sides on Saturday. They included the last 61 of the 422 ships that were queuing when the container vessel was dislodged, ending the backlog of shipping that built up during the crisis.

The canal was blocked on March 23 when the Ever Given -- one of the world's largest container ships -- got stuck diagonally across its width.

The 224,000-ton Panama-flagged vessel was grounded in a narrow section of the canal after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a sandstorm, which led to temporary suspension of navigation in the man-made waterway.

An SCA investigation began on Wednesday into what caused the vessel to run aground, Rabie told MBC Masr television on Friday.

“The investigation is going well and will take two more days, then we will announce the results,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government said the Ever Given would not be released until compensation was paid by the vessel's owner.

According to Mr Rabie, the loss could surpass $US1 billion ($1.3 billion).

The Ever Given's technical managers, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, said on Monday that its initial investigations suggested a strong wind had veered the ship off course.

Insiders said while the total compensation has not been determined, this could be the largest ever container ship compensation case.