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Egyptian court refuses to release Ever Given container ship that blocked the Suez Canal

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The Ever Given cargo ship anchored in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake in March.
The Ever Given cargo ship anchored in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake in March.   -   Copyright  Mohamed El-Shahed/AP
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An Egyptian court has rejected an appeal by the owner of the massive container ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March for it to be returned to its country of origin.

Egyptian authorities impounded the 400m-long Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in service in the world, after the week-long ordeal in March which halted billions of dollars in maritime trade.

The Suez Canal Authority said the vessel would not be allowed to leave the country until compensation is settled with its Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd.

A court in the city of Ismailia ordered the seizure of the vessel earlier this month. The Ever Given’s owner filed an appeal on April 22 in hopes of overturning the decision, which was upheld on Tuesday by the city’s Economic Court.

The Suez Canal Authority has demanded $916 million – about €763 million – in compensation, according to Ever Given’s insurer UK Club.

The amount asked for took into account the salvage operation, the costs of stalled canal traffic and lost transit fees for the week the Ever Given blocked the canal.

Last week Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd said it has notified “a number” of the owners of the approximately 18,000 containers on the ship to assume part of the damages demand.

It refused to disclose further details of the negotiations, including the amount covered by insurance and how much it is asking freight owners to share.

The Panama-flagged Ever Given was on its way to the Dutch port of Rotterdam on March 23 when it slammed into the bank of a single-lane stretch of the canal, about 6 kilometres north of the southern entrance.

It was freed six days later after a huge salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats aided by the tides. Hundreds of other ships were held up during the blockage, with many choosing to take the long and expensive alternative route around the Cape of Good Hope.