Updated: April 3, 2021 10:07:40 am
Ships are moving again in the Suez Canal, the crucial maritime trade route that was blocked for almost a week. However, owing to the accumulation of hundreds of vessels in the region, a massive traffic jam has ensued near the route that connects Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. Now, a satellite photo of the congestion seen from Space is going viral.
NASA Earth shared a collage of three photos on Tuesday after ‘Ever Given’, the stranded ship that blocked the canal, resumed its sail, clearing the waterway for global traffic. While the February 2021 image showed few vessels in the narrow canal indicating its usual traffic, the recent picture showed how the congestion spread as far as 100 kilometres as they waited to enter the strip.
The series of night-time images were all acquired with the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite that offers another view of ships waiting in the Gulf of Suez.
“By March 27, the line of waiting ships stretched 72 kilometres (45 miles). Two days later, ships waited as far as 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the canal entry. According to Leth Agencies, 184 vessels were still waiting to get through on March 30,” NASA Earth wrote on Facebook, explaining the photo collage.
Hundreds of ships were left idling around the Suez Canal as engineers worked to dislodge a grounded vessel blocking the key shipping route in Egypt. The Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of the queue of ships on March 27, 2021. https://t.co/vOYCt8g7qS #suezcanal pic.twitter.com/THVN30kf0f
— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) March 29, 2021
Gulf Agency Co., a shipping-services company operating at Suez, said that a total of 437 vessels had been blocked after the ‘Ever Given’ wedged. Osama Rabie, chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, which runs the 120-mile shipping route, said Tuesday that 113 ships had crossed in both directions since the route reopened and another 95 are expected to pass by the evening. It could take up to three days to clear the backlog, according to the Suez Canal Authority.
Salvage crews were aided by a natural process—a high spring tide—in their efforts to dislodge the massive cargo ship with tugboats and dredgers. “Spring tides occur when tides ‘spring fort’ during new and full moons—when the Earth, Sun, and Moon are in alignment. In this case, the tides in the Suez Canal rose about 46 centimetres (18 inches) above normal on March 29,” the Earth Observatory explained.