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Shipping Group Hapag-Lloyd to Decide Wednesday about Red Sea Return

FRANKFURT, Dec 26 (Reuters) - German container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd will decide on Wednesday whether to resume journeys through the Red Sea, a spokesperson said, as Maersk prepared to return to the area after US-led efforts to prevent attacks.

The world's top shipping companies, including Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd, stopped using Red Sea routes after Yemen's Houthi militant group began targeting vessels this month, disrupting global trade through the Suez Canal.

Instead they have rerouted via southern Africa, a longer and more expensive journey. The canal is the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe.

"We will decide tomorrow how we will proceed," a Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said on Tuesday, declining to comment further.

The company had said last week it would redirect 25 ships by the end of the year to avoid the area.

Danish-based Maersk had said on Sunday that it was preparing to resume shipping operations in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, citing deployment of the US-led military operation designed to ensure the safety of commerce in the area.

Maersk did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday about when it would return vessels to the Suez Canal and what assistance it had received from the US-led maritime force.

CMA CGM, another global shipping line, said it had no update to provide on whether it was planning to resume transit of the Red Sea.

In a notice posted on its website on Tuesday, the French-based group listed 28 of its vessels as being re-routed around the Cape of Good Hope, compared with 22 in a previous list published last Thursday.

CMA CGM is among container lines to have introduced surcharges due to the re-routing of vessels, adding to rising costs for sea transport since the Houthis started targeting vessels.

Two explosions in the Red Sea were reported by a vessel sailing off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, shortly after two unmanned aircraft were sighted, a British maritime authority said.

The British maritime authority said the vessel was in contact with coalition forces and that reports said the crew was safe and the vessel was continuing its voyage.

Reporting by Tom Sims Additional reporting by Louise Rasmussen and Gus Trompiz Writing by Josephine Mason Editing by Angus MacSwan and David Goodman

Source: Reuters

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