Dec 9, 2010

Panama Canal closed due to flooding

Heavy rains and flooding prompted the closing of the Panama Canal for only the third time in its storied 96-year history.

The last time the canal closed was in 1989, after the United States invaded Panama to topple strongman Manuel Noriega. Landslides forced the canal to close for several months from late 1915 to mid-1916, just months after it opened.

The photo shows a man watching as a container ship is slowly towed through one of the canal locks.

The canal was built from 1904 to 1914 by the United States, which had sole control over the channel across the Panamanian isthmus until 1979 when Jimmy Carter gave one half of the control over to the Panamanian government.

Then, after 20 years of joint U.S.-Panama control, the Jimmy Carter give-away of the canal to Panama was completed on December 31, 1999.