Sunken tanker that caused oil spill in Oriental Mindoro spotted

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 21) — The MT Princess Empress, which sank off Oriental Mindoro three weeks ago causing a massive oil spill, has been spotted, Governor Humerlito "Bonz" Dolor said on Tuesday.

Dolor made the announcement in a social media post showing a photo of the oil tanker, which was found through a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) from Japan.

“Sa wakas, natagpuan na ang MT Princess Empress! Ang unang sulyap sa lumubog na barko gamit ang ROV (lulan ng Japanese vessel na sinalubong natin kahapon at inihatid sa lugar na pinangyarihan ng trahedya),” the governor wrote, referring to Japanese salvage vessel Shin Nichi Maru.

[Translation: Finally, the MT Princess Empress has been found! Here’s the first glimpse of the sunken ship using an ROV, which was on board the Japanese vessel we welcomed yesterday and brought to the area of the incident.]

On March 6, authorities announced locating the tanker 7.5 nautical miles from Balingawan Point, facing the town of Pola in Oriental Mindoro, although the ship itself hasn't been sighted at the time.

In a press briefing, Dolor reported that the earlier identified location is the same area where the ship was seen.

He said experts are now assessing the vessel, including if there are holes that have to be covered. An official report is expected in a few days, Dolor added.

MT Princess Empress was initially reported to have been transporting 800,000 liters of industrial oil when it capsized and sank near Naujan town on Feb. 28.

The Philippine Coast Guard later corrected this in a radio interview, saying the ship was carrying 900,000 liters of oil.

Meanwhile, Defense chief Carlito Galvez, Jr. confirmed on Tuesday that the United States will join Japan in helping in cleanup efforts by deploying naval units.

In a separate statement, the US government also reported that eight of its experts already arrived in Pola, Oriental Mindoro to assist in response operations.

Galvez added that the Philippines will continue to seek the expertise and technical support of other nations, such as France and the United Kingdom, in containing the oil spill.