Residents report nausea after oil spill in Oriental Mindoro province, Philippines


A tanker carrying 800,000 liters of industrial fuel oil sank off the coast of the Philippines. Subsequently, dozens of people reported vomiting, headaches and nausea.

At least 43 people have suffered these symptoms since the oil reached the shores of Oriental Mindoro province, an island 140 kilometers southwest of Manila, provincial health official Cielo Ante said Wednesday, according to local media.

No one was hospitalized Wednesday evening, Ante added. Authorities had not yet confirmed whether the symptoms were a direct result of the oil spill. A curfew for people under the age of 21 was imposed in the province’s Pola municipality and authorities declared a state of emergency.

The tanker MT Princess Empress sank on February 28. A passing freighter rescued the 20 crew on board. It is not yet clear what caused the ship to sink.

Authorities said they located the tanker 7.5 nautical miles from Balingawan Point on Monday.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday he hopes the cleanup will take less than four months, and pledged efforts to help affected residents.

Kazuhiko Koshikawa, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines, announced on Twitter that Japan will send a team of disaster response experts to remove and contain oil. “We are one with you in these difficult times,” he added.

This comes a month after a Norfolk Southern hazardous materials train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Investigators said the contamination of the soil, water and air after the incident could pose long-term risks to local residents.

Train derails, dangerous chemicals burn as Ohio city evacuates

A floating oil spill was deployed in the town of Pola on Wednesday after days of rough sea conditions hampered previous efforts to contain the oil slick, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Armando Balilo said.

Black oil along the coast of Pola, as seen in drone footage, after a tanker sank off the coast of Oriental Mindoro in the Philippines on Feb. 28. (Video: Reuters)

“In a span of nine days it gets worse. The stench of the oil is getting stronger as the weather warms up as well,” Jennifer Cruz, the mayor of Pola, told CNN Philippines.

While the amount of diesel and industrial fuel oil that leaked into the water is unknown, the oil has been spotted as far south as Semirara Island, more than 80 miles from where the tanker sank.

The Philippine Marine Science Institute predicted that more than 36,000 hectares of coral reefs, mangroves and seaweed, including marine protected areas, could be affected by the disaster.

Thousands of fishermen were ordered to stay ashore and shortly after the spill, swimming was banned in at least seven coastal towns, further endangering Oriental Mindoro’s largely fishing and tourism-dependent economy. The world-famous tourist destination of Boracay is also said to be in danger.

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