Authorities from both government and private sectors from the Philippines have brought forces together as they race to contain the oil spill damage in Cebu which has already greatly affected the sources of livelihood in the province.
The 2GO Group, which owns passenger vessel MV Saint Thomas Aquinas 1, announced it will be bringing in a group of diverse experts who will help in the containment of the oil spill as well as look into the possible ill effects that can happen to the province's marine ecosystem.
"Alongside the ongoing search and rescue operations of 2GO Group, the company is also addressing and containing the oil spill coming from the sunken M/V St. Thomas by flying in global oil spill experts to professionally handle the situation in the Lawis Ledge in Talisay, Cebu as part of the company's commitment to the environment and to assist in the swift rescue of survivors," Jeremias Cruzabra, 2GO corporate information officer, was quoted by local news media outlet InterAksyon.
On August 16, passenger vessel MV Saint Thomas Aquinas 1, which was on its way to the Port of Cebu, collided with cargo vessel MV Sulpicio Express 7 which was on its way out of the port. The Aquinas 1 eventually sunk and leaked oil. The ship was loaded with 120,000 litres of bunker oil, 20,000 litres of diesel, and 20,000 litres of lube oil.
Apart from the oil leak, authorities continue to scour the ocean waters to find missing passengers, As of 8:00 pm, Aug 20, there were still 55 people reported missing.
The Aquinas 1 vessel has a total passenger capacity of 1,010 people. At the time of the Cebu-Manila voyage mishap, it was carrying 870 people, of which 754 were passengers and 116 officers and crew.
Mr Cruzabra added a Japanese salvage master will come to help contain the spill as well as en expert from the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd. Four Japanese technical divers were also expected to fly in the province to help the local divers from the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard.
He said the company was particularly concerned over how the oil spill can possibly affect Cebu's marine ecosystem. At least 12 barangays have been affected by the oil spill, namely Barangays Alegria, Bangbang, Buagsong, Catarman, Cogon, Dapitan, Day-as, Gabi, Ibabao, Pilipog, Poblacion and San Miguel.
Among the hardest hit by the environmental damage were the mangrove areas and the eel farms. The fisher folk in the province have reported unable to catch anything from the seas, source of their livelihood and food, the past few days.
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