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Ever Given crew could face criminal charges for Suez Canal incident

Ever Given lodged sideways and impeding all traffic across the waterway of Egypt's Suez Canal. (Suez Canal Authority/AFP photo/Handout/Getty Images/TNS)

The 25-member Indian crew of the Ever Given, a massive container ship that remained stuck in the Suez Canal for nearly week, could face criminal charges.

Investigators boarded the 1,300-foot-long vessel and launched their investigation on Wednesday, shortly after its arrival in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. The probe is expected to cover the ship’s seaworthiness and as well as the crew’s actions and how they may have contributed to the dayslong incident.

The Indian government and seafarers’ groups have already expressed concern over what legal issues the crew may face and how they will be treated by Egyptian officials. Sources told the Times of India that the group could be placed under house arrest until an investigation into what caused the ship to run aground is complete.

The captain and several other members of the crew could also be restricted from traveling.

“There is a clear danger that the crew will be made scapegoats,” a senior person associated with the shipping industry told the outlet.

Capt. Sanjay Prashar, a member of the National Shipping Board, said that the “facts can be checked by examining and listening to conversation in the ship voyage data recorder and one can come to an understanding as to what caused the mishap.”

The Ever Given became stuck in the Suez Canal on March 23, causing a major traffic jam in the busy passageway. More than 350 vessels — carrying everything from cattle and clothes to furniture — became stuck on either side of the trapped ship until it was finally freed six days later.

Bernhard Schulte Ship Management, which is the technical manager of the Ever Given, said in a previous statement that the crew were all safe and accounted for.

”There have been no reports of injuries, pollution or cargo damage and initial investigations rule out any mechanical or engine failure as a cause of the grounding,” BSM said.

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