A new landslide along the Corinth Canal on Thursday has thrown a monkey wrench into restoration works on the important shipping route between the Greek mainland and the Peloponnesian Peninsula.
The Canal has been closed since January due to previous landslides, and although works have been ongoing, it seems that the waterway known as the “Greek Suez” will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
More landslides at Corinth Canal delay construction
The most recent landslide at the Canal occurred on the Peloponnesian side of the canal, specifically under the railway bridge of the isthmus.
The aftermath of the landslide and the amount of damage it caused to the Canal is shown in a video below.
The Canal, which was constructed in the late 19th century, has been vital to Greek and international shipping, as it connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.
It cuts through the isthmus of Corinth which separates the Peloponnese with the rest of the Greek mainland.
Local news source korinthostv.gr reports that landslides at the Canal have been occurring practically continuously since January, making restoring its functionality incredibly challenging for civil engineers and others working at the site.
Not the first disaster at the Canal
Repair work has been underway in Corinth since January, when the first major landslide of the year occurred at the Canal. No clear timeline on when these restorations may be over has been released, and recent events have likely only made predicting when the Canal will be functional again more difficult.
According to studies carried out starting January by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport, moisture and erosion caused the loss of the stone piers that supported and protected the earth from falling into the canal.
Most studies into why the Canal is failing are expected to be completed in September. Then the construction for the project will go up for bid, and preliminary works on the sides of the Canal will begin subsequently.
As Greece opens to tourism this summer, thousands of visitors who pass through from the Ionian to the Aegean Seas on yachts and cruise ships have either had to cancel or take the longer and much costlier route around the Peloponnesian peninsula.
In addition, of course, commercial shipping in Greece has already suffered as the cost of transporting goods and fuel increases. Economists fear that this may result in medium to long-term price increases.
The future of the Canal operator and employees are also at stake, as revenues have now completely dried up.
In April, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said full repairs are necessary to ensure the safe passage of ships through the channel.
“It is a very important project and we should not forget that it was built in the 19th century. The time has come now, in the 21th century, the time has come for the necessary interventions,” he said, adding that repairs will cost nine million euros.