Video report from ITV News reporter Sangeeta Kandola
A canal services firm has said salvage teams have "partially refloated" the colossal container ship that remains wedged across the Suez Canal.
Leth Agencies said early Monday the modest breakthrough came after intensive efforts to push and pull the ship with 10 tugboats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at spring tide.
The firm said it was awaiting confirmation of the refloating from the Suez Canal Authority, without providing further details about when the vessel would be set free.
Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed the ship in the same position, surrounded by a squadron of tugboats with its bow stuck in the canal’s eastern bank.
The skyscraper-sized Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal last Tuesday and has held up $9 billion in global trade each day, bringing disruption to the vital waterway.
Already, hundreds vessels remained trapped in the canal waiting to pass, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle.
Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed the partial refloating after the ship responded successfully to "pull-and-push manoeuvres".
He said workers had almost completely straightened the vessel's course and that the stern had moved 102 metres (334 feet) from the canal bank.
However, the rescue team said the ship's bow remained stuck in the sandy clay at the canal's edge.
"Don’t cheer too soon," Peter Berdowski, CEO of Boskalis, the salvage firm hired to extract the Ever Given, told Dutch NPO Radio 1.
"The good news is that the stern is free but we saw that as the simplest part of the job," he added.
The toughest challenge remained at the front of the ship, he added, noting that workers would struggle to haul the fully laden 220,000-ton vessel over the clay of the canal bank.
An official at Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company which owns the Ever Given, confirmed the vessel's bow had moved slightly, but warned the bottom of the ship was still touching the seafloor.