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2 dead, 3 missing in tanker-dredger ship collision

Posted on May 2, 2023

Two crew members of a foreign dredging vessel — a Filipino and a Chinese — died after their ship collided with a chemical-petrol tanker in the waters between Corregidor Island and Mariveles, Bataan, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Saturday.

Three other Chinese crewmen are missing.

The collision between the 140-meter dredger MV Hong Hai 189 and the 183-meter MT Petite Soeur, which occurred around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, caused the smaller ship to capsize, PCG spokesperson Rear Adm. Armand Balilo said.

The Petite Soeur, flagged in Marshall Islands, wasn’t damaged, he said.

Other details of the incident were not immediately available, including the direction the ships were traveling and their destinations.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Hong Hai’s last port call was Botolan, Zambales, and Petite Soeur’s was Mariveles, Bataan.

Corregidor, located at the mouth of Manila Bay, is just 5.56 kilometers from Mariveles, but it is under the jurisdiction and administrative management of Cavite City, around 35 km away.

Chinese vessel Heng Da 19, which was near the area when the collision occurred, reported to the PCG that it had rescued 16 of Hong Hai’s 20 crew members — 16 Chinese and four Filipinos. Fourteen were being cared for on Heng Da, and two were rushed to a hospital.

Aerial, underwater search

The Chinese crewman who died had drowned. The Filipino, who was the Hong Hai’s safety officer and one of the 16 who were rescued by the Heng Da, died in the hospital due to head injuries.

The PCG sent the BRP Capones and another vessel, plus smaller boats to assist in the search and rescue of the three missing Chinese crew members.

The PCG Aviation Force also conducted an aerial search.

Balilo said divers were deployed to look for the three missing crew who might have been trapped inside the capsized dredger.

CAPSIZED | The dredging vessel MV Hong Hai 189 floats belly up in waters off Corregidor Island on Saturday morning, after it capsized following a collision with the bigger chemical-petrol tanker MT Petite Soeur the night before. Two crew members of the dredger died and three others are missing. The rest of its 20-man crew were rescued. The Petite Soeur did not sustain any damage and all its 21 crew members are safe. (Photo from the Philippine Coast Guard)

Spill not ruled out

The PCG said all the 21 crew members of Petite Soeur were safe and in good physical condition.

Balilo said the Petite Soeur carried 100,000 to 150,000 liters of chemical petrol.

The PCG has not ruled out any possibility of an oil or chemical spill from the tanker, which sustained no damage. The ship has not been allowed to leave Philippine waters and was anchored at the Mariveles port on Saturday.

“The authorities will conduct a port state control inspection to Petite Soeur to hold and detain the vessel,” the PCG said.

Commander Jonathan Serote of the PCG’s Bataan station and his staff are still gathering information from witnesses to determine the cause of the accident.

Condition of corals
The collision happened 10 days after a Chinese-flagged bulk carrier, MV Zhe Hai 168, ran aground about 4 km off Barangay Sulangan, in Guiuan, Eastern Samar province.

According to a PCG investigation, the carrier with 20 Chinese crew members, was transporting nickel ore from the province’s Homonhon Island to Caofeidian District in China’s Hebei province, when the accident occurred around 6 p.m. on April 18.

The Chinese ship sustained no damage. The PCG’s Marine Environmental Protection Unit found no traces of an oil spill.

The Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has yet to make public its evaluation about the condition of corals at the marine protected area near the accident.


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