Dozens sick after Philippine oil spill
MANILA: Dozens of people in the Philippines have fallen ill after oil washed up on their shores from a sunken tanker, officials said Wednesday, as authorities struggled to reach the leaking vessel.
The Princess Empress had 800,000 liters of industrial heating oil on board when it sank off the central island of Mindoro, south of the capital Manila, more than a week ago.
Diesel fuel and thick oil from the ship have contaminated the waters and beaches of nine communities along the coast of Oriental Mindoro province, Gov. Humerlito Dolor told reporters.
Oil was pumped to Semirara Island – which is part of Antique Province – more than 130 kilometers from where the tanker went down.
This has raised concerns about the region’s rich marine life and economy.
Provincial Health Officer Cielo Ante said at least 43 people living in the affected villages had reported vomiting, headaches and nausea since the oil reached their shores.
“They live in areas where the oil spill happened,” Ante said.
No one was hospitalized and authorities have not confirmed whether the symptoms were a direct result of the spill, she added.
Dolor said clean-up efforts are underway to prevent a rise in the disease.
“We can’t afford to add more numbers. Every day that goes by is catastrophic,” he said at a briefing.
Wearing protective clothing and rubber gloves, residents and Coast Guard personnel cleaned up oil-coated seaweed and other debris from affected beaches.
An oil spill boom was set in on Wednesday after rough seas hampered earlier efforts to contain the oil slick, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Armando Balilo said.
The Environment Agency said on Monday that the submerged tanker may have been located.
It was thought to be about 400 meters below the surface, but a remote-controlled vehicle would be needed to confirm its exact location.
It is not known how much diesel and industrial heating oil got into the water.
Thousands of fishermen have been ordered to stay ashore until they are safe to fish and swimming has been banned.
An estimated 591 hectares of coral reefs, 1,626 hectares of mangroves and 362 hectares of algae could be “potentially affected” by the oil spill, Environment Minister Maria Antonia Loyzaga said earlier.
Source: Crypto News Deutsch