Female ship captain accused of blocking Suez Canal blames rumours on sexism

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A female ship captain falsely accused for blocking the Suez Canal has blamed the allegation on sexism.

Marwa Elselehdar, who is Egypt's first female ship captain, was rumoured to have been in charge of the Ever Given when it caused chaos by getting stuck in one of the world's largest shipping routes.

Many took to social media, sharing fake news posts, screenshots and even set up Twitter accounts in her name to share the images.

However, she was in fact hundreds of miles away working as a first mate on another ship – the Aida IV – in Alexandria on the other side of Egypt.

Speaking to the BBC, Elselehdar said was baffled by the accusation, but believes it might have been motivated by either her gender or nationality.

The 29-year-old said: "I felt that I might be targeted maybe because I'm a successful female in this field or because I'm Egyptian, but I'm not sure."

She added: "People in our society still don't accept the idea of girls working in the sea away from their families for a long time.

  • Suez Canal blockage to take 3 and a half days to clear after stranded ship is refloated

"But when you do what you love, it is not necessary for you to seek the approval of everyone."

The incident made international headlines when the 220,000-tonne, 400m-long Ever Given got wedged in the Suez Canal on March 23, bringing the site to a standstill.

The ship, which was heading to Rotterdam in Holland from Malaysia, was stuck for six days, creating a huge backlog of ships.

A team made up of the Suez Canal Authority in Egypt and Dutch salvage firm Boskalis were finally able to free it.

In a statement, Boskalis CEO Peter Berdowski said: "Shortly following the grounding of the Ever Given we were requested through SMIT Salvage to provide assistance with the salvage operation.

"I am excited to announce that our team of experts, working in close collaboration with the Suez Canal Authority, successfully refloated the Ever Given on 29 March at 15:05 hrs local time, thereby making free passage through the Suez Canal possible again."

Around 12% of global trade passes through the 193km (120-mile) canal. It connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. providing the fastest – and shortest – sea route between Asia and Europe.

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