Tanker carrying 800,000 liters of oil sinks in central Philippines

Jeoffrey Maitem
Davao, Philippines
Tanker carrying 800,000 liters of oil sinks in central Philippines Rescued crew members from Philippine oil tanker MT Princess Empress are seen aboard the Panama-flagged MV EFES as they approach Subic, in Zambales, north of Manila, Feb. 28, 2023.
[Photo courtesy Philippine Coast Guard]

A tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel sank in rough seas Tuesday, coast guard officials said, adding they were checking for an oil spill in waters off Oriental Mindoro province in central Philippines.

The 20 crew members on board the MT Princess Empress, which was en route to the central island of Iloilo, were rescued by a Panama-flagged ship, said coast guard and a port official in nearby Batangas city.

“Initial investigation revealed that the distressed motor tanker encountered engine trouble due to overheating,” the coast guard said. “It then drifted toward the vicinity of waters off Balingawan Point due to rough sea conditions until it became half-submerged.”

Joselito Sinocruz, local port manager in nearby Batangas city, said a foreign ship came to the aid of 20 people on board the tanker. 

“They were successfully rescued. The boat already sank in the area,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the coast guard deployed BRP Melchora Aquino (MRRV-9702) to search for possible traces of an oil spill.

After an initial assessment, the coast guard said that what had appeared to be a leak was a diesel fuel spill and not oil from the tanker’s cargo hold. Nevertheless, the coast guard’s marine environmental protection group began conducting an oil spill assessment test.

Last month, 30 to 40 liters of oil spilled off Subukin Port in San Juan, Batangas, when a tugboat submerged because of strong waves.  

The worst spill in the country occurred in August 2006 when oil tanker M/T Solar 1, which was hired by the Petron Corp., sank off the coast of Guimaras, an island province in the Philippines.

The tanker spilled more than 2.1 million liters (about 555,000 gallons) of fuel.


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