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After the Suez blockage, is there danger on the Panama Canal?

Ships are less likely to run aground using the Central American passage—but the risk is growing

The Panama Canal’s narrowness has led to attempts to widen it—but at the expense of an uptick in accidents. Photo: © Richard Dunwoody/Hemis/Alamy Stock Photo

They are the two most vital shortcuts of world trade, two engineering breakthroughs that over a century ago altered maps and pushed the boundaries of what was possible in maritime shipping. The canals of Suez and Panama have long seemed twinned. “There is only one maritime project which comes close to the scale of this, and that is Suez,” the guide at the Panama Canal museum cheerfully explains. 

But in recent weeks, that tone has changed. After the 220,000-tonne Ever Given container ship ran aground in Suez, causing a six-day blockage that affected a tenth of all global…

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