People at the canal began cheering as the news came in. “Thank God the ship has floated,” one person can be heard saying in a video, as the surrounding boats blow their horns in celebration. “God is great. The ship has floated.”
The operation to free the rest of the ship will resume when the water level rises in the late morning, said the SCA in a statement.
Mohab Mamish, the former head of the Suez Canal and Egyptian Presidential seaport adviser, told CNN Arabic that the canal is expected to be ready for passage by today.
Crews from Egypt and around the world have been working nonstop to try to refloat the ship, with the operation involving 10 tug boats, sand dredges and salvage companies working for the past seven days to free the ship.
The Ever Given, a 224,000-ton vessel almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground in the Egyptian canal on March 23. A massive effort to salvage the ship has focused on dredging sand from below the front and rear of the ship, before pulling the ship with tugboats.
Rescue teams started digging deeper and closer to the ship on Sunday, with dredging reaching 18 meters (59 feet) at the front of the ship, the SCA said in a statement. Over 27,000 cubic meters (953,000 cubic feet) of sand has been removed so far, said Rabie.
Rabie added that the reasons behind the accident remained unclear.
“There are many factors or reasons, fast winds and the sandstorm could have been a reason but not the main reason — it could have been a technical mistake or human error,” he said. “There will be further investigations.”