Corinth Canal blocked again

A new landslide along the Corinth Canal on Thursday challenged repairs on an important shipping route between mainland Greece and the Peloponnesian peninsula.

The canal has been closed since January due to previous landslides, and although work continues, it appears that the waterway known as the “Greek Suez” will remain closed in foreseeable future.

New landslides on the Corinth Canal delay repairs

The last landslide occurred on the Peloponnesian side of the canal, in particular under the railway bridge on the isthmus.

The consequences of the landslide and the amount of damage caused to the canal are shown in the video.

The canal, built in the late 19th century, was vital to Greek and international shipping as it connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea to the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It crosses the Isthmus of Corinth, separating the Peloponnese from the rest of mainland Greece.

Local news source reports that mudslides have occurred on the canal almost continuously since January, making it an incredibly difficult task for civil engineers and others working on the site to restore it.

Not the first catastrophe on the channel

Refurbishment work has been underway in Corinth since November 2020, when the first major landslide occurred on the canal. There is no clear timetable for when these restorations can be completed, and recent events have likely only made it difficult to predict when the canal will become functional again.

Moisture and erosion have caused the destruction of the stone pillars that supported and protected the ground from falling into the canal, according to research conducted since January by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. Most of the studies on the causes of the channel collapse are expected to be completed in September. Then a tender will be put up for the construction of the project, and subsequently preparatory work on the sides of the canal will begin.

As Greece opened up to tourism this summer, thousands of travelers who cross the Ionian and Aegean Seas on yachts and cruise ships have either had to abandon or take the longer and much more expensive route around the Peloponnesian Peninsula.

In addition, of course, commercial shipping in Greece has already suffered as the cost of transporting goods and fuel rises. Economists fear that this could lead to medium and long-term price increases.

The future of the channel operator and its employees is also at stake, as revenues have dried up completely.

In April Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said a full renovation is needed to ensure safe passage of ships through the canal.

“This is a very important project and we must not forget that it was built in the 19th century. The time has come in the 21st century for the necessary interventions, ”he said, adding that the renovation would cost nine million euros.

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