A photo received from the Philippine Coast Guard on February 28, 2023 shows an aerial view of an oil spill in nearby waters off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro.
MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (MSI) expects the spill from the MT Princess Empress to be concentrated in the town of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro this week, as the oil continues to leak from the sunken vessel.
In a bulletin released on Saturday evening, UP MSI said currents from the north coast of Mindoro passing Verde Island are expected to be stronger in the coming days. This could result in the majority of the leak spilling over to Calapan from March 20-22.
“Winds from Amihan, which carried most of the oil to the Nauhan and Pola coasts in previous weeks, are now more variable, allowing oil to spread northward,” MSI said.
“It is essential to stop the infiltration before the end of the Amihan season, otherwise more critical biodiversity areas along the passage of Verde Island could be affected.”
The MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel when it sank off the eastern coast of Mindoro in the early hours of February 28. Environmental groups and advocates have already called on the government to take action as the spill could affect areas along the island’s Verde Passage.
This means seagrass beds and corals can be affected by escape, while fish kills can also affect local livelihoods. Whatever fish is caught in the area may also not be safe to eat.
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READ: Oil spill from sunken tanker could threaten biodiversity of Verde Island Passage – group
149K people concerned
Based on the situation report from the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management released on Sunday, the number of people affected rose to 149,503 from 147,293 reported on Saturday. The majority of them are from the MIMAROPA region, while 30,226 are from the Western Visayas.
The NDRRMC noted that 189 people have fallen ill, experiencing abdominal pain, dizziness, with some reporting difficulty breathing and others reporting rashes and fever.
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Meanwhile, the number of farmers and fishermen affected stood at 13,654, with production loss or damage cost estimated at around 3.850 million pesos. — Kaycee Valmonte with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico