11 Dec 2010

Panama Canal open again

6:00 pm on 11 December 2010

The Panama Canal - which connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans - is open again after heavy rains forced a temporary closure.

Rains pushed water levels in the canal to record highs on Wednesday.

However, the canal authority was able to let ships pass through again on Thursday morning.

It was the first time the canal has had to close since 1989.

The BBC reports that about 14,000 ships pass through the Panama Canal each year, representing about 5% of world trade.

Unlike the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal is not at sea level.

The 80km canal links the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Ships are raised and lowered by massive locks at either end and then proceed through a freshwater channel.