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Ever Given container ship finally leaves Suez Canal after settlement agreement

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By Euronews  with AFP
Details of the settlement deal with the ship's owners have not been revealed.
Details of the settlement deal with the ship's owners have not been revealed.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Mohamed Elshahed, File   -  

The giant container ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March has finally been allowed to leave by Egyptian authorities.

The Ever Given had been held in detention for 100 days until a compensation agreement could be reached with the vessel's Japanese owner.

A deal was eventually signed by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) on Wednesday after lengthy negotiations, with a ceremony on the banks of the waterway.

The 200,000-tonne vessel began moving north towards the Mediterranean Sea shortly after 11:30 local time.

The terms of the settlement agreement with the Ever Given's owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, have not been revealed.

The SCA's lawyer, Khaled Abou Bakr, insisted in a speech shortly before the signing that the agreement was "confidential"

"I confirm that we have preserved all the rights of the authority," he said.

It was reported that Egypt's canal authorities had initially demanded $916 million (€763 million), but this claim was eventually lowered to $550 million (€465 million).

In a televised ceremony in Ismailia, SCA chairman Osama Rabie said the Ever Given incident was a "difficult test" for Egypt "under the eyes of the world".

The Panama-flagged ship -- one of the world's largest -- was stuck in the narrow canal for six days in March, captivating social media around the world.

Experts suggested that the blockage halted traffic in the Suez Canal for about 10% of world trade.

The six-day clearing operation required more than a dozen tugboats, as well as dredgers to dig up the canal floor.

After being freed, the Ever Given was then held in the Great Bitter Lake, in the centre of the canal, by the Egyptian authorities.

Wednesday's release came a day after an Egyptian court had lifted the judicial seizure of the vessel once a financial agreement was reached.

The money that Egypt receives would cover the salvage operation, costs of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees for the week the canal had been blocked, authorities said.