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Oil tanker off Mindoro Oriental totally sinks

The oil tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil totally sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, according to Jun Veneracion’s “24 Oras” report on Wednesday.

The ill-fated tanker MT Princess Empress, which is six kilometers long and four kilometers wide, has caused an oil spill in the vicinity.

Authorities are still determining if the oil spill is part of the fuel carried by the tanker.

“Malalaman natin yan within the day base sa resulta ng water sampling na ginawa ng Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at Coast Guard,” PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armando Balilo said.

(We will know it within the day based on the results of the water sampling done by the DENR and Coast Guard.)

They also located the source of the oil spill around 7.4 nautical miles southwest of Balangwan Point, Naujan Oriental Mindoro. Authorities started collecting the oil spill at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Coast Guard said it placed oil spill bloom to contain the spill and deployed divers and marine experts to help.

“Ito'y unprocessed and unfiltered so it would really affect the marine environment lalo na yung ecosystem ng dagat at maaaring maapektuhan din yung nasa shoreline pagka ito ay tumagas,” Balilo said.

(It is unprocessed and unfiltered so it would really affect the marine environment especially the ecosystem of the sea and may also affect those on the shoreline when it leaks.)

However, the PCG reported that the ill-fated tanker sank at a depth of 460 meters, saying that it is impossible for the divers to reach it since the underwater pressure increases.

“Yung pressure sa ilalim, maaaring maapektuhan nga integrity ng barko. Maaaring pwedeng bumuka yung halimbawa yung mga compartment ng barko at doon na magsimula ang tagas,” Balilo said.

(The pressure at the bottom can affect the integrity of the ship. For example, the ship's compartments can open and the leak starts there.)

Authorities are also investigating the cause of the sinking.

“Pag-may negligence after ng investigation may liability pero kung force majeure naman at napatunayan na wala silang pagkukulang at nag ingat naman sila at tanging yung weather lang nakaapekto then walang liability,” Balilo said.

(When there is negligence after the investigation, there is liability, but if it is force majeure and it is proven that they did not have any shortcomings and they were careful and only the weather affected then there is no liability.)

Meanwhile, the 20 crew members of the ill-fated tanker were rescued by the international cargo vessel MV Efes which brought them to safety in Subic, Zambales around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.

They were immediately taken to the hospital.

The crew members expressed gratitude to the international cargo vessel for rescuing them.—Richa Noriega/LDF, GMA Integrated News