Truck carrying Evergreen container causes traffic jam in China, drawing comparisons to Suez Canal blockage

A truck carrying an Evergreen shipping container crashed on a freeway in China on Saturday morning (local time), mere days after one of the world's largest container ships - also owned by Evergreen - ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal.

Pictures from the scene of the crash show chaos and disruption as cars backed up behind the vehicle, the images rapidly circulating on Chinese social media platforms.

The accident occurred shortly before 9:55am (local time) on the Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway in Nanjing, the capital of China's eastern Jiangsu province.

The truck came to a stop diagonally across the freeway, blocking oncoming traffic and causing significant congestion - quickly drawing comparisons to the current situation in the Suez Canal. 

The 200,000-tonne Ever Given container ship remains wedged between the banks of the Suez Canal, blocking hundreds of vessels transporting products such as crude, liquefied natural gas and retail goods. As the shortest shipping route connecting Europe and Asia, the canal is one of the world's most important waterways, with about 30 percent of global container ship traffic passing through each day. An estimated 12 percent of world trade, by volume, is carried through the Suez Canal.

Viral pictures of the accident in Nanjing inspired a number of jokes regarding Evergreen, the Taiwanese container transportation and shipping company headquartered in Taiwan's Luzhu District.

"This is Taiwan independence," one person joked on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, one of the country's biggest social media platforms.

Pictures of the crash quickly went viral on Weibo.
Pictures of the crash quickly went viral on Weibo. Photo credit: Weibo

Others were quick to counter the jokes, arguing there was no connection between the crash and the canal blockage - aside from the container and the Ever Given being owned by Evergreen. The crash was not the fault of the shipping company, they added, pointing out it was a pure coincidence the truck was carrying the Evergreen container at the time. 

As of Monday morning (NZ time), salvage teams were continuing attempts to dislodge the stranded Ever Given, alternating between dredging and tugging methods. It's understood efforts to free the ship have been complicated by a rock lodged beneath the ship's bow.

Dredgers have so far shifted 27,000 cubic metres of sand, to a depth of 18 metres. Efforts will continue around the clock according to wind conditions and tides, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ordered preparations for the possible removal of some of the ship's 18,300 containers, SCA Chairman Osama Rabie told Egypt's Extra News.

Any operation to lighten the ship's load would not begin before Monday (local time) according to a SCA source.