The Suez canal was blocked in both directions Friday after three freighters ran aground in the waterway near Port Said at the northern end, canal authorities told AFP.
The 27,000 ton Panamanian-flagged Mirellia, travelling in a convoy of some 20 ships heading from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, ran aground first, blocking the eastern exit of the canal, the officials said.
The Malaysian-registered Bunja Melatis and the Stoltdevon, also Panamanian-flagged and carrying chemicals, also went aground in its wake.
Port authorities said traffic was blocked in both directions following the incident, which they attributed to accidental causes.
According to Egyptian web sources, the canal transports 14 percent of the total world trade, 26 percent of oil exports, 41 percent of the total volume of goods and cargo that reach Arab Gulf ports – Albawaba.com