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Container ship stuck in Elbe River successfully rescued

A container ship which had run aground in the Elbe River has been freed after two previous attempts had failed. The boat is expected to continue on its intended course later this week.

Rescue efforts began at 2 a.m. local time (01:00 UTC/GMT), taking only 20 minutes to free the cargo ship "CSCL Indian Ocean," which had run aground in the Elbe River about 35 kilometers (roughly 22 miles) northwest of Hamburg almost a week ago.

High tides on a new moon and south-westerly winds in the North Sea facilitated the operation; the affected section of the Elbe River was closed off to traffic during the rescue attempts.

It took 12 tug boats to finally release the container ship, which is registered with the China Shipping Container Lines shipping company, and tow it back into the shipping channel. The boat arrived safely in Hamburg at about 5:30 a.m. local time, being pulled by five tugboats.

Cargo ship given clean bill of health

The rescue team from the "Havariekommando Cuxhaven" said that the accident in the Elbe River had apparently been caused by a defect in the steering system.

After initial check-ups, they said that there was no evidence of any lasting damage and that the steering system was in working order again. The cargo ship is expected to leave Hamburg later this week following a set of further checks.

Put in operation last year, the "CSCL Indian Ocean" is one of the largest cargo ships in the world, measuring 400 meters (1,300 feet) in length and 59 meters in width.

At the time of running aground in the Elbe, the boat was carrying 6,600 containers of cargo. In terms of twenty-foot equivalent unit (teu) measurements, the maximum number of containers a ship could carry is 19,100 teu. Only a handful of cargo vessels in the world exceed 19,000 teu.

ss/msh (AFP, dpa)

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