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Egypt has opened a major expansion of the Suez Canal, which deepens the main waterway and provides ships with a 35km channel parallel to it on Thursday, August 6.
At the inauguration, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi welcomed foreign leaders aboard a historic yacht as helicopters and fighter jets flew by.
The expansion aims to increase the traffic handled by the canal. Having consumed USD 8.5 billion, the canal will allow for two-way traffic along part of the route, as well as for larger vessels throughout. The construction of the new lane began a year ago, on the orders of the President.
At the inauguration ceremony in the town of Ismailia, the president appeared in military uniform and sunglasses aboard the El-Mahrousa – the yacht that was the first vessel to pass through the canal when it was built in 1869.
The former military leader welcomed foreign guests including French President Francois Hollande, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Security was tightened for the inauguration ceremony amid fears of attack by militants allied to Islamic State.
The militants, based in the Sinai Peninsula, have killed hundreds of people since the military overthrew the Islamist government of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
The original canal currently handles 7 percent of global sea-borne trade. The waterway connects the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, providing the shortest sea link between Asia and Europe.
Compiled from Agencies