After an oil tanker sank off the Philippines, a huge oil slick has spread off the coast of Oriental Mindoro province south of the capital Manila. More than 100,000 people have already been affected by the environmental disaster, either because they have lost their livelihoods or are struggling with health consequences, provincial governor Humerlito Dolor said Monday.
The MT Princess Empress sank two weeks ago with 800,000 liters of industrial oil on board. Oil has been leaking from the ship ever since. Slowly, the full extent of the environmental disaster is becoming clear. "It's a nightmare," Gloria Ramos, vice president of the marine conservation organization Oceana Philippines, told the German Press Agency.
She said the oil spill is killing everything, not only marine ecosystems but also the livelihoods of local residents. "There are also health effects on people," she added. Many tried to remove the oil with their bare hands. "But this is very dangerous because this can cause kidney and liver diseases. That's how toxic the oil is," Ramos stressed.
The tanker is still leaking, Dolor explained. The owner is working to seal the leak, he said. "The damage in the province is quite big. The most affected are fishermen and their families, as well as sellers of fish and fishing gear. Many fish have already died, he said, and sea grasses, corals and mangroves have also been damaged."
The current has also driven the oil northward, they said. There, it now threatens the Isla Verde Strait, one of the most biodiverse marine habitats anywhere. The strait lies between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro.
Image by June Hanabi