Philippines oil spill may take more than a month to contain: coast guard

Manila, Mar 7 (EFE).- It is expected that the oil spill from a sunken tanker that has already affected dozens of coastal villages in the Philippines will take more than a month to contain, the country’s coast guard said Tuesday.

The MT Princess Empress sunk a week ago in rough seas off the coast of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro province, carrying about 800,000 liters of industrial oil.

In a press conference, Philippines Coast Guard Commandant Adm Artemio Abu cited a lack of equipment and manpower.

“Let us be honest and candid about it. One month time? It’s not that easy,” Abu said.

The announcement came after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported Monday that they believe they have found the location of the vessel off the coast of Pola at a depth of 400m and that it drifted in a southeasterly direction from the last position recorded before its sinking.

In Pola, where the sludge blackens the white-sand beaches and its usually crystal-clear waters, the local authorities have reported people falling ill with vomiting, dizziness and cramps due to the toxic chemicals.

The government has declared a state of calamity in more than 78 coastal villages in Oriental Mindoro where the spill has reached the shores.

The University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute estimates that some 20,000 hectares of coral reefs, 9,900 ha of mangroves and 6,000 ha of seagrass may be affected.

At the weekend the spill reached one of the islands of Caluya, about 33 kilometers from Boracay, the country’s largest tourist destination, triggering alarms in the battered Philippines tourism industry, which is still trying to recover from the pandemic. EFE


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