A Chinese container ship hit a wall of the newly expanded Panama Canal, a Canal Authority official and a local ship agent said on Monday (25 July). It's the third such incident since the waterway opened a month ago amid concerns that it has less space to navigate and might not be safe for workers and vessels.

The China Shipping Container Lines-owned Xin Fei Zhou container ship suffered a huge gash in its hull. The ship's agent said it was currently under repair. Meanwhile, the Canal Authority said its operations team was investigating the incidents.

After the expansion the waterway can now take ships three times larger than before but workers groups claim that the locks are too small for operations. The locks are designed for the ships to use tugboats to steer them through the canal.

A study commissioned by International Transport Workers' Federation, released earlier this year said the new locks were too small for tugboats to move properly. However, the authority dismissed the findings.

According to a Reuters report, the Lycaste Peace, the first LPG tanker to pass through the expanded waterway in June, knocked off a fender due to a collision, causing a small damage to its railing.

The container ship Cosco Shipping Panama, which made its inaugural journey through the canal, also came into contact with the fenders, which the authority spokesperson said was normal.

The canal expansion began in 2007 and was due to end in 2014 but disputes and strikes over costs delayed it for almost two years. The $5.2bn (£3.8bn) project opened for the first voyage on 26 June.

Panama canal expansion
Chinese-chartered merchant ship Cosco Shipping Panama crosses the new Cocoli Locks during the inauguration of the Panama Canal expansion in Panama City on 26 June 2016 [File Picture]RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images