More than 1,000 displaced by oil spill get upgrade: From evacuation camps to hotels
ILOILO CITY—More than 1,000 villagers displaced by an oil spill from a power barge are being treated to an upgrade of temporary living facilities—from hot, humid evacuation centers to air-conditioned hotel rooms.
At least 1,240 persons would be billeted at three hotels—Highway 21, District 21 and Diversion 21—after they transfer from five evacuation camps, according to Gabino Ramon Mejia, head of plant operations of AC Energy Corp., which runs the power barge.
Mejia told the Inquirer on Thursday (July 9) that the company would pay for the hotel rooms that have toilets and TV sets and food for the evacuees until they are able to return to their homes.
The evacuees have been staying at classrooms of the Barrio Obrero Elementary School, Barrio Obrero High School, Zone 1 gymnasium of Barrio Obrero, Jalandoni Memorial Elementary School and Technical Institute of Iloilo City.
They were forced to leave their homes starting on July 3 after the power barge Power 102, operated by the Ayala-owned AC Energy Corp., leaked bunker fuel after an explosion tore a hole on its hull.
The Coast Guard Iloilo station estimated that 268,948 liters of bunker fuel leaked from the barge and reached coastal villages of Iloilo City and areas near them.
On Thursday morning, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas criticized AC Power Energy Corp. for failing to adequately provide for the needs of evacuees, warning that the city government will file criminal and administrative complaints.
Mejia said the company had difficulty procuring folding beds and other needs of the evacuees because of supplies were constricted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said AC Energy decided to transfer the evacuees to ensure they would be taken care of and be comfortable.
Some of the evacuees were expected to transfer to the hotels on Thursday evening while the rest were expected to do so on Friday (July 10).
Aside from breakfast provided by the hotels, packed meals will be delivered to evacuees.
Mejia, quoting the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, said the earliest that some of the evacuees can return to their homes is on Tuesday next week when the cleanup of oil residue is expected to be completed in some areas.
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