Cargo Vessel Sinks Off Panglao Island, Philippines

By Kit Bagaipo, The Bohol Chronicle

A cargo vessel that ran aground off Puntod Island near Panglao and carrying some 29,000 bags of cement needs to be refloated the soonest time before it can cause more destruction to the coral reef where it is lodged.

Professional diver Holger Horn told the Chronicle that “MV San Padre Pio II” is dangerously listing by about 40-degrees towards a deep trench estimated to be 200 meters deep.

Horn, who personally checked the site where the cargo vessel ran aground, described the extent of destruction the ship has caused.

“Unfortunately, a large area of pristine corals were smashed,” Horn said.

According to the dive master, Padre Pio II is resting at the very edge of a coral reef and being held by two robes. The coral is a mix of hard and soft corals which takes decades of rehabilitation.

“It takes a year for a coral to grow by 1 to 10 centimeters,” Horn explained.

The area damaged by the cargo vessel destroyed approximately 1,500 square meters of the group of corals.

Horn added that the extent of the destruction can only be determine after the vessel is salvaged and the cement cargo are taken out of the sea bed.

Horn estimates some 1,500 to 2,000 bags at the slope of the coral.

Diving to about 40 meters will reveal the whole extent of the disaster, Horn said.

In a meeting of the Bohol Marine Triangle, the refloating of the cargo vessel was urged to prevent further destruction to the marine protected area which is part of the popular dive sites in Panglao.

“MV San Padre Pio-2″ was bound for Jagna Port when it ran aground near Puntod Island.

The boat got stuck in a shallow portion near the popular dive spot.

The vessel’s 21 crewmen and the captain were unharmed.

According to the ship’s captain Fernando Patricio the vessel encountered strong winds which caused the 248 ton boat to drift off course until it hit a shallow portion.

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