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Shipping Companies Divert Routes Away from Suez Canal Amid Escalating Red Sea Attacks

Shipping companies are opting to avoid the Suez Canal due to increased attacks in the Red Sea by Houthi militants. On Saturday, two major freight companies, including MSC, the world's largest container shipping line, announced their decision in response to the escalating assaults on commercial vessels by Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

The Houthi attacks are linked to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, with vessels using the Suez Canal facing heightened risks. The MSC Palatium III was recently targeted with a drone, leading to fire damage and its temporary withdrawal from service. Another vessel, Hapag Lloyd's Al Jasrah, was hit by a missile, according to the U.S. military.

A.P. Moller-Maersk has temporarily halted its container shipments through Bab al-Mandab, and this decision has been echoed by MSC and CMA CGM. The situation is described as deteriorating, prompting concerns for safety. Hapag Lloyd is also considering a similar course of action.

Houthi attacks have extended beyond shipping, with reports of missile strikes towards Israel, including the Red Sea resort city of Eilat. The U.S. Central Command reported intercepting 14 drones in the Red Sea, while a British warship successfully downed a suspected attack drone targeting merchant shipping.

The Houthis, in control of much of Yemen, have expressed a willingness to engage in Oman-mediated talks with "international parties" concerning their operations in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea. This development may suggest a potential willingness to deescalate tensions.

Bab al-Mandab, a crucial route for global seaborne commodity shipments, especially crude oil and fuel, faces increased war risk premiums, resulting in significant additional costs for voyages. MSC has announced plans to reroute some services around the Cape of Good Hope, lengthening the sailing times for vessels initially scheduled to transit the Suez Canal.

Source: Reuters 


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