As efforts to dislodge the huge container ship stuck in the Suez Canal intensified Saturday, an animal-rights nonprofit is airing concerns over animals trapped in cargo vessels.
Ships carrying livestock destined for different countries in Europe and Asia are among the billions of dollars worth of vital cargo and sensitive products backlogged on the vessels whose way is blocked.
The EU director of NGO Animals International Gabriel Paun warned that thousands of animals being transported on 13 vessels -- mostly Romanian -- could be at risk of dying if the situation is not resolved in the next few days.
More ships carrying livestock are currently approaching the Suez Canal, Paun said.
"We are sitting in front of a major tragedy if the channel is not released in the next 24 hours because there are vessels that will run out of [livestock] food and water in the next two days," Paun said.
Some ships have food and water for six more days and "if decide today to return to Romania, then they have a chance -- but if the blockade lasts between two and six more days we will have a disaster," Paun added.
One ship carrying livestock, the Nabolsi, has been sailing for 21 days after departing from Colombia on March 6, and is now awaiting passage by the blocked canal with animals on board, Marine Traffic spokesman Georgios Hatzimanolis said.
Each day that passes comes at a high cost to companies and countries whose trade has been held up by the gridlock. About 12% of the world trade volume passes through the Suez Canal, and it usually handles about $10 billion a day in cargo.
More than 18,800 ships with a net tonnage of 1.17 billion tonnes passed through the canal during 2020. That's an average of 51.5 ships per day.
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