CAIRO, Egypt – A 93,000-ton cargo ship drifted at the wrong angle inside the Suez Canal during a sandstorm Wednesday and blocked all transit on the waterway between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, a canal authority official said.
The Hong Kong-flagged Okal King Dor was traveling north during the sandstorm when it veered at right angles to the canal about six miles south of the city of Ismailiya, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but the official said high winds were a factor.
Four tugs were sent to realign the ship.
About 8 percent of world sea trade passes through the canal, which is 120 miles long and 330 yards wide at its narrowest, according to the Canal Authority. The ships pass in convoys that take 12 hours to make the journey.
The canal is a major source of foreign exchange for Egypt. It earned $3 billion in 2004 when the average number of ships per day was about 47.