PCG prepares for contingency as oil sheen spotted at yacht sinking site near Tubbataha

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has started preparing for contingency measures after its personnel spotted oil sheen near the area off the waters of Tubbataha in Palawan where a dive yacht sank on Sunday morning, April 30.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said they are continuously monitoring the situation in the area where the M/Y Dream Keeper sank in order to come up with an appropriate response.

“We monitored oil sheen near the site where the yacht sank. That’s why our oil spill response team is already there and we are preparing in case there’s an oil spill so that we will be able to contain it right away,” said Balilo. 

He said the oil sheen was spotted some four nautical miles from the Tubbataha Reefs which is popular for pristine coral reefs with a perpendicular wall, extensive lagoons and two coral islands. 

The yacht departed from San Remigio, Cebu City on April 27 and arrived at the Tubbataha Reef around 10 p.m. of April 29. 

The yacht has a total of 32 people on board, 28 of them were already rescued while four others are still missing.

Balilo said the initial investigation revealed that the yacht encountered a squall, or a localized thunderstorm which is now being eyed as the reason behind its sinking.

“The search and rescue operation for the missing is ongoing and those rescued are already safe. Aside from our personnel, there are divers from at least 10 yachts who are helping us in the search and rescue,” said Balilo.

Meanwhile, Balilo said they have already terminated the search and rescue for the two missing crew of a dredger and an oil tanker off the waters of Corregidor Island. 

At least three people were confirmed dead during the sea mishap and Balilo said the search and rescue were already terminated after their divers were not able to locate the two missing crew despite intensive search.