Philippines scrambles to contain major oil spill

Authorities in the Philippines are scrambling to contain what could be the biggest oil spill in the country's history.
Oil from a sunken ship is washing ashore across wide areas about 200 kilometers from the capital, Manila.

Residents and coast guard personnel are working around the clock to clean up the shores on and around Mindoro Island.

The spill is coming from the MT Princess Empress, a tanker under the Philippine flag that sank last week following engine trouble. It was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil.

All 20 crew members were rescued.

The authorities have declared a state of calamity and imposed a fishing ban affecting around 18,000 fishers in 60 villages.

Experts are also concerned about the effects on marine biodiversity. Tourism officials warn that the oil is tainting the waters of popular diving destination.

The Coast Guard installed oil boom on Wednesday to contain the mess. Recovery operations on the tanker have begun.

The government got in touch with Japan over the weekend to request help to bring the spill under control.