The wreck of the Princess Empress tanker, which sank three weeks ago in the waters of the Philippines, was found by the authorities on Tuesday. The accident caused an oil spill that affected several islands in the country.
The Princess Empress had 800,000 liters of fuel oil on board when it suffered engine damage and sank in rough seas on February 28 off Mindoro Island. The wreckage was located by a Japanese remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) at a depth of 400 meters.
A thick slick of fuel and oil had reached the Eastern Mindoro coastline earlier this month and toxic products continue to leak from the vessel. The National Disaster Management Agency said the ROV needed to analyze the condition of the hull before deciding how to “control the leak from its source.”
The Philippines requested the help of several countries such as the United States, Japan or France to control the disaster. Pollution booms made of hay, human hair and other materials were deployed in an attempt to protect the waters of the coast, on which several sectors such as fishing and tourism depend.
Thousands of hectares of coastline could be affected, authorities said. The Strait of Verde, between the islands of Mindoro and Luzon, is a region “recognized worldwide” for its marine biodiversity, said Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga.
Tens of thousands of people were affected, especially fishermen, who were forced to stay in port until further notice. This situation has a direct impact on their economic activity;
Faced with this dramatic situation, the government has decided to take measures to help the affected populations. It has been distributing food aid since the beginning of the crisis to support the inhabitants.