The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said on Monday that an oil spill response team is ready for deployment in Tubbataha, Palawan after an oil sheen was observed in the area where a yacht recently capsized.
PCG Spokesperson Rear Admiral Armand Balilo said that an oil sheen was seen around the location where the yacht M/Y Dream Keeper sank.
“May nakitang oil sheen sa pinaglubugan pero hindi pa siya ganun karami kaya nandoon din ang oil spill response team natin. Doon sa area na pinaglubugan na four nautical miles ang layo sa wreck mismo,” Balilo told reporters in an interview.
Based on the information from survivors, a squall or a sudden violent gust of wind was the reason for the sinking of the yacht.
Authorities said 28 passengers have already been rescued and four people are still missing including the yacht owner, the dive master, and two passengers.
The M/Y Dream Keeper departed from San Remegio, Cebu City April 27 and arrived at Tubbataha Reef on Saturday, April 29 at around 10 p.m. The PCG said it received the report from their sub-station in Palawan on the incident early Sunday morning, April 30.
The dive yacht is used by tourists to experience deep water diving in Tubbataha Reef, the PCG said. The PCG is still conducting search and rescue operations as of press time.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) meanwhile said it is closely monitoring the developments of the ongoing search and rescue operations.
Tourism secretary Christina Garcia Frasco met with Department of National Defense acting secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief general Andres Centino to discuss ongoing search and rescue efforts on the capsized yacht.
Frasco instructed the DOT Dive Committee, including the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD), to extend all assistance possible to the survivors of the capsized liveaboard M/Y Dream Keeper, which was reported to be ferrying a team of 15 crew, and 17 passengers, 5 of whom are dive masters, when the yacht capsized.
The DOT said it also remains in constant coordination with the Philippine Navy, the PCG, and private entities involved in the incident.