Philippine tanker 'leaking oil'

Oil is continuing to leak from a tanker which sank off the Philippines 11 days ago, according to coastguard officials.

The tanker was carrying around two million litres of oil when it sank in heavy seas off the island of Guimaras.

The widening slick has damaged large areas of coastline, and is threatening rich fishing grounds.

It is one of the worst spills to hit the Philippines, and the government has appealed for international assistance with the clean-up.

Teams of experts from Japan and the US are expected to arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday to assess the damage.

Leak

The tanker, the Solar 1, was on its way to deliver two million litres (530,000 gallons) of oil to a power plant on the southern island of Mindanao when it sank.

Eighteen crew members were rescued, but two people are still missing.

The spill has now affected some 300km (200 miles) of coastline on Guimaras island, the civil defence office said.

Sludge and dead wildlife have been washing up on beaches along the coast, causing damage to reefs, marine reserves and the tourist industry.

The slick is also threatening nearby Negros and Panay Islands, where villagers have been erecting makeshift booms to hold the oily sludge back.

Head of the Philippine Coastguard Vice Admiral Arturo Gosingan said on Tuesday that more oil had leaked from the sunken tanker overnight.

"It's definite that there is a leak," he told Philippine television.

But a spokeswoman for Petron Corp said there had not been any more seepage. "Our own aerial surveys confirm that there's no new leak," she said.

Officials are now looking at whether it would be better to refloat the vessel or try to suck out the remaining fuel, the French news agency AFP reported.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the government was making "tactical decisions" on the clean-up.

"We need to focus all our energy and resources in addressing the problem," he said.

22/08/2006

Bron : BBC News

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