It's said to be the "largest civil earth-moving operation in history." Some 50,000 workers will use 400,000 tons of explosives to blast out the world's deepest canal, able to handle the largest supertankers and container ships in the world today. If completed, the canal will be three times longer than the Panama Canal and change world maritime trade forever.
But there are many questions still to be answered, even as the first steps are underway toward building the canal.
Can Nicaragua, an impoverished nation, handle a construction project whose workers will consume 37 tons of rice, 25 tons of vegetable and 12 tons of meat daily? What will be the environmental impact of dredging a canal through Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest body of fresh water and the source of much of Nicaragua's drinking water? Will the massive ships it is designed to serve really be used in numbers large enough to justify the enormous cost? And where, ultimately, will the money come from to build it?