abdullah abdel gawad ever given suez canal excavator

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When excavator operator Abdullah Abdul-Gawad learned that there was an emergency at the Suez Canal, he thought it meant he would have no work that day.

Instead the hours ahead — and the next five days and nights — had quite the opposite in store. The Ever Given, a skyscraper-sized container ship, lodged itself into the banks of the canal on March 23, and Abdul-Gawad’s boss needed him urgently.

“We need you to get in a car and come right now because you’re the only excavator driver who’s close enough,” Abdul-Gawad, speaking to Insider via interpreter, recalled being told.

Describing the scene that faced him at work, Abdul-Gawad told Insider: “It was really quite something… it was awe-inspiring.”

The 28-year-old, who has been operating excavators since university, said that he and his colleagues worked 21-hour days, barely sleeping — and still have not received their overtime pay.

Here’s how he said events unfolded from inside the excavator cabin. 

David vs Goliath

Freeing the Ever Given was an international effort, with winches, dredgers, tugboats and excavators all drafted in. But Abdul-Gawad was the man who was literally at the rock face of the problem. Once he got to the base of the ship, there was no choice but to start digging. 

In his estimation, the Ever Given’s bow was lodged around six meters higher than where the ship ought to have been floating. Its stern was also sitting on the opposite bank, and the sideways ship was blocking all traffic. 

To approach the base of the vessel, he built a makeshift “bridge” from rubble he dug up, allowing him to get closer.

The image of the little excavator gave the world unparalleled meme fodder, but for Abdul-Gawad the situation was far less funny — it was dangerous. 

Under the looming sides of the ship, he feared destabilizing the …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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