Operations start to remove ship from coral area
CEBU CITY—Three tugboats were used to pull a Panamanian-registered cargo vessel out of a shoal where it ran aground and destroyed at least 3 hectares of coral reefs.
Two of the tugboats pulled the MV Belle Rose while the third was at the other end of the cargo ship to maintain balance, according to an official who took part in the operation.
MV Belle Rose ran aground in Monad Shoal, a popular dive spot, off Daanbantayan town, Cebu province.
The operation to pull the ship is one of the options laid out to remove the vessel from the shoal to prevent further damage to coral reefs there.
It started around 9 a.m. during high tide but was suspended around 10:30 a.m. for the crew to discharge water from the vessel to help it float.
Noel Kimmayong, of Malayan Towage and Salvage Corp., said at least 500 tons of water had to be removed from the ship to make it rise by at least 10 centimeters.
Salvage workers had to use a hose to siphon off water from the vessel because the ship’s ballast pump had been damaged and is no longer working, said Kimmayong.
Kimmayong, who held a news conference on board a banca on Saturday while supervising the operation, said he could not confirm the exact distance of the boat’s movement out of where it was stuck.
Environment and local officials decided to pull back the vessel and bring it to a deeper portion of the sea where the ship could float.
At least 3 hectares of coral reefs were damaged when the 29,100-ton vessel loaded with 48,000 metric tons of clinker, a raw material used for the production of cement, ran aground while heading for San Fernando town in southern Cebu from Japan.
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