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PCG: Sunken MT Princess Empress’ tanks still intact, oil spill from operational fuel

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Monday it believes the oil spill from the submerged motor tanker Princess Empress is from its operational fuel, and not yet entirely from the 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil it is carrying.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said they received an image from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA) showing that the oil tanks of the sunken ship in Oriental Mindoro are seemingly still intact.

“Merong image na binigay samin ‘yung NAMRIA at mukhang intact pa po ‘yung tanker at wala pang nakikitang tagas na maramihan na nanggagaling doon sa kanyang mga tanks,” he said.

(NAMRIA gave us an image of the sunken ship and it looks like the tanker is still intact and there are no visible leaks yet coming from its tanks.)

The Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said it was the NAMRIA that spotted the sunken vessel about 400 meters below sea level, 7.5 nautical miles from Balingawan Point.

Asked if all the industrial fuel from the vessel had already leaked, considering the oil spill reported in several nearby provinces like Palawan and Antique, Balilo said that this might not be the case.

“Hindi pa. Feeling ko nga, hindi pa talaga lahat ay tumatagas. ‘Yun nga ang inaagapan natin dahil kapag lumabas lahat ng langis no’n ay ‘yan ang magiging malaking problema natin,” he said.

(Not yet. I have a feeling that not all the oil is leaking yet. That's what we're working on because when all the oil comes out, that's going to be our big problem.)

“‘Yun ang tingin namin. Nando'n pa ang langis sa ilalim ng tubig…nasa barko pa,” he added.

(We think that the oil is still under the water…still in the vessel.)

The DENR earlier said approximately 591 hectares of coral reefs, 1,626 hectares of mangroves, and 362 hectares of seagrass or seaweeds can be potentially affected by the effects of the oil spill.

Livelihood of residents and tourism in some provinces are also disrupted due to the oil slick. A number of people have also reportedly gotten sick for the same reason.

In Oriental Mindoro alone, almost 100,000 residents were already affected, while 122 residents had respiratory-related symptoms, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to Governor Humerlito Dolor on Monday.—AOL, GMA Integrated News