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Not Cranes and Tug Boats, a Supermoon Comes to Stuck Ship’s Rescue in Suez Canal

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Not Cranes and Tug Boats, a Supermoon Comes to Stuck Ship's Rescue in Suez Canal

The container ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal for the last six days is finally back afloat — thanks to a supermoon that brought high tides. The container reportedly got a boost from a high tide caused by a supermoon — a full moon that raises water levels with its strong gravitational pull on the Earth.

According to multiple reports, the Ever Given partially refloated after running aground last Tuesday in the crucial global shipping waterway. Satellite footage from MarineTraffic website showed that the ship’s bow had been wrested from the shore. Authorities had brought two more powerful tugboats into the canal, bringing the total to 14 tugs working on moving the ship.

A mass of rock underneath the ship’s bow has made freeing the ship difficult. Dredgers shifted more than 950,000 cubic feet of sand and dug down nearly 60 feet. The blockage caused delays to at least 369 boats, which lined up in a massive traffic jam waiting to pass through the canal, which handles up to 15 percent of world trade.

Authorities are investigating how the Ever Given became wedged in the canal. Initial reports blamed high winds and a sandstorm that affected visibility. However, over the weekend, Egyptian officials said human error may have contributed to the ship running aground.

Sunday night’s breakthrough comes as workers were set to begin offloading some of its 18,300 containers to lighten the load on Monday.

The nearly week-long blockage of the busy waterway has caused about USD 9.6 billion in commercial losses per day, according to economic estimates calculated by Bloomberg, as ships that should have been heading between Europe and Asia stayed immobilized.

The canal carries over 10% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil. Over 19,000 ships passed through last year, according to canal authorities. Millions of barrels of oil and liquified natural gas flow through the artery from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America. Goods made in China — furniture, clothes, supermarket basics — bound for Europe also must go through the canal, or else take a circuitous 5,000 kilometer (3,1000 mile) detour around the southern tip of Africa.

The unprecedented shutdown had threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of extended delays, good shortages and rising costs for consumers.