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Coast Guard prepares to tow Chinese ship from Tubbataha by 1 p.m.

April 19, 2013 9:56am

The Philippine Coast Guard on Friday started preparations to have a tugboat finally tow away a Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on Tubbataha Reef last April 8.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said they are waiting for the high tide at 1 p.m. to remove the vessel, radio dzBB's Carlo Mateo reported.

Balilo said that while the tugboat arrived at the site Thursday, an initial attempt to tow the Chinese boat away from the reef did not succeed.

On Friday morning, Balilo said the Coast Guard will prepare the tugboat again and will wait for the high tide to improve the conditions for removing the vessel from the site.

Should Friday's attempt succeed, the tugboat is to tow the Chinese vessel to Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, where the Coast Guard will inspect it.

Earlier, the Coast Guard said it will look for anteater scales aboard the ship to determine the origin of some 400 boxes of frozen anteaters found in the cargo hold.

The vessel ran aground on Tubbataha Reef, a world heritage site, last April 8, three months after the minesweeper USS Guardian of the US Navy ran aground last Jan. 17 there.

Salvage teams managed to cut and remove the USS Guardian from the area last March 30.

On the other hand, the 12 Chinese aboard the fishing vessel have been arrested and detained at the Palawan Provincial Jail after they were charged for poaching and trying to bribe park officials.

Philippine intelligence officials are also verifying whether the 12 Chinese are spies in disguise, due to their bearing and complexion. — LBG, GMA News
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