Maltese oil tanker runs aground in Suez Canal, halts traffic for 6 hours

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SUEZ: A Maltese-flagged tanker ran aground in the Suez Canal early Thursday, halting traffic in the major waterway for six hours until it was towed away, officials said.

No oil was spilled from the ISI Olive tanker, Suez Canal Authority said in a statement.

The statement said the 1992-built crude oil tanker got stranded just after passing through the southern, Red Sea entrance of the waterway because of a failure in the steering gear which caused it to run aground on the western bank of the 190 kilometers long canal.

It took Suez Canal authorities six hours to extricate and tow the tanker, which is Iranian-owned, away. The 81,000-ton 270-meter-long vessel was only slightly damaged.

Because of the traffic halt, 59 ships were delayed for passage from both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea mouths.

About 7.5 percent of world sea trade passes through the canal, which at its narrowest is 120 meters wide and is divided into two 60-meter-wide lanes. The canal is a major source of foreign currency for Egypt.

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