Two still missing as Philippines fears oil spill from sunken ferry

Philippine authorities have put experts on standby to clean up possible oil leaks from a packed ferry that sank off Mindanao.

Two still missing as Philippines fears oil spill from sunken ferry

Philippine authorities have put experts on standby to clean up possible oil leaks from a packed ferry that sank off the southern island of Mindanao, leaving nine people dead, officials said on Monday.

Rescuers saved 957 people aboard the ferry. Two people were still missing.
"We are still conducting search and rescue to make sure there is no one left in the waters. We have to make sure we still continue to scour the area," coastguard commander Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

"We are also monitoring for a possible oil spill, we have people there capable of conducting an oil spill clean up."

Aboitiz Transport System, owner of the sunken steel-hulled passenger and cargo ferry, has hired experts to join the oil spill assessment and monitoring efforts, said a coastguard report on Monday.

The ferry was carrying 180 tonnes of residual fuel oil, 45 tonnes of special fuel oil, and 25 tonnes of lube oil when it sailed from General Santos City on Mindanao island to the central province of Iloilo and the capital Manila, the report said.

One survivor told local radio on Monday that the ferry was already listing when it left the port of General Santos.

The coastguard will start an investigation in a few days and will investigate all possible causes of the accident, including the ferry's cargo being tied loosely, causing it to slide to one side and unsettling the ferry's balance, coastguard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo told local radio.

The crew also reported problems with the ferry's generator and an initial report from the disaster agency on Sunday said there was a hole in the ferry's hull.

Ferries are an important mode of transport in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands. Their safety record is abysmal, and many accidents occur because of overcrowding or poor maintenance.

Last year, more than 800 people were killed when the Princess of the Stars ferry capsized during a typhoon. In the country's worst maritime disaster, more than 4,000 people were killed when a ferry collided with an oil tanker in 1987.


Reuters

Last Mod: 07 Eylül 2009, 14:38
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