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Gov’t eyeing removal of toxic cargo before salvaging ferry

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:25:00 07/09/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The government is considering removing toxic chemicals and fuel from the hulk of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars before it is towed to shore or re-floated, Transportation Undersecretary Elena Bautista said Wednesday.

Taking out the ill-fated ferry’s cargo of 10 metric tons of endosulfan, an industrial strength pesticide, several other toxic chemicals, and fuel would take 40 days, Bautista told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo, following a meeting of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

“We will take out the hazardous materials and the crude first before we move the ship. That is an option, and it appears to be the safest,” Bautista said.

Bautista said efforts to remove the toxic cargo and tow or re-float the ship would start 10 days after Sulpicio Lines Inc., owner of the Princess of the Stars, appoints a salvor company.

Sulpicio Lines has promised to choose between two salvors by Thursday, she said.

The ferry, which was carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized in rough waters off San Fernando town on Sibuyan Island, Romblon, on June 21, after it sailed into the path of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

Search operations in the ferry wreck were suspended on June 27, after officials discovered its cargo included endosulfan.

The latest NDCC count showed 207 dead and 32 survivors in the ferry tragedy, while 625 remain missing.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-07-09T09:45:05+00:00UTC07bUTCWed, 09 Jul 2008 09:45:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

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