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PCG: Chinese vessel carrying 55-MT nickel ore ran aground off Eastern Samar

A Chinese vessel carrying 55,000 metric tons of nickel ore ran aground off the coast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar last week, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday.

Based on an incident report, the Chinese-flagged bulk carrier MV ZHE HAI 168 hit the vicinity waters approximately 2.7 nautical miles off the shoreline of Barangay Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar on April 18.

The bulk carrier, with 20 Chinese crew on board, was transporting nickel ore from Homonhon Island, Eastern Samar, to Caofeidian in China when the incident occurred at 6:10 p.m.

Based on an Unang Balita report, Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan said the ship ran aground due to strong waves.

The local government unit (LGU) is planning to reduce the amount of nickel ore the vessel was carrying to make it float. It has also written to the shipowner to address the situation.

An ocular inspection was conducted by the Coast Guard Sub-Station Guiuan Marine Environmental Protection Unit (MEPU), and MV ZHE HAI 168's agent Rogelio Roble, together with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and LGU representatives on April 19.

The Chinese crew said there was no leakage or damage inside the vessel.

The MEPU also initiated a surface assessment for possible traces of oil spill and yielded a negative result.

On April 22, the PCG launched a marine casualty investigation regarding the incident with the Chinese vessel’s captain Jiang Shangjun.

The PCG said Thursday it is now preparing for the arrival of a salvage team from Singapore to conduct operations. They are set to temporarily transfer the cargo to a barge and pull out the ship.

The Coast Guard Sub-Station Guiuan, meanwhile, will supervise the salvage operations and ensure that no spillage will occur by installing oil spill booms.

Once the bulk carrier is pulled out, PCG said it will conduct another hull assessment.

Divers from DENR will also evaluate the condition of corals at the marine protected area near the vicinity waters for damage claims. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News