A vast container ship has run aground in the Suez canal after being blown off course by a “gust of wind”, causing a huge traffic jam of vessels at either end of the vital international trade artery.

The 220,000-tonne, 400 metre-long Ever Given – a so-called “mega ship” – became stuck near the southern end of the canal on Tuesday.

Several attempts to refloat it have failed.

Early reports speculated the vessel suffered a loss of power, but the ship’s operator, Evergreen Marine Corp, told Agence-France Presse: “The container accidentally ran aground after a suspected gust of wind hit it.

“The company has urged the shipowner to report the cause of the incident and has been in discussions with relevant parties including the canal management authority to assist the ship as soon as possible.”

Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (31 mph).

“All crew are safe and accounted for,” said Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, which manages the Ever Given. “There have been no reports of injuries or pollution.”

The Ever Given is one of a new category of ships called ultra large container ships (ULCS), some of which were even too big for the Panama canal that links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, according to one trade expert.

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