Coast Guard fails to remove Viet ship


LEGAZPI CITY—Coast guards on Monday failed anew to extract a 2,999-ton Vietnamese cargo ship that was washed ashore by strong waves spawned by Tropical Storm “Gorio” in Barangay (village) San Roque, 2 kilometers from the city proper.

The MV Minh Tuan 68 has been impounded by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) since September last year after it entered the city port with 94,000 bags of rice smuggled from Vietnam.

It was anchored a few hundred meters off the port until it was swept by winds and waves to the shore of San Roque at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Disaster officials said the vessel went adrift on Saturday because its crew could not start the engine as the fuel tank was empty. Only five Vietnamese crew members were left on the vessel as six others had already returned home to Vietnam.

For two hours, a tugboat owned by Sun West Corp. tried to retrieve the ship at high tide at noon but was unsuccessful, said Commo. Aaron Reconquista, PCG commanding officer in Bicol. It ended its operation at low tide and would try again at midnight of Monday.

Reconquista said the mission would also depend on the availability of two more tugboats to help pull the Minh

Tuan back to sea.

The PCG has proposed to the BOC District Office here to bring the vessel to the Sula Channel, a cove in Barangay Sula, Bacacay, Albay, 22 km from the city.

Leovigildo Doyoja, BOC-Legazpi customs collector, said in a phone interview that the agency would not object to the transfer if the PCG could guarantee that the ship will not escape.

The vessel, owned and operated by Ming Truong Shipping Lines, arrived here on Sept. 2, 2012, but it was impounded by the BOC and PCG for transporting 94,000 bags of smuggled rice from Vietnam.  Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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