MANILA, Philippines: An underwater robot from Japan has located a leaking fuel tanker, MT Princess Empress, which sank off the central Philippines three weeks ago.
The discovery of the tanker, carrying about 211,338 gallons of industrial fuel oil when it capsized on Feb. 28 and eventually sank, was deemed crucial in stopping the spill, which has reached shorelines in three provinces.
Plugging the leaks and extracting any remaining oil from the tanker was urgent, said Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito Dolor during a media briefing.
With the help of a remotely-operated vehicle that arrived from Japan, Dolor shared the first photos of the Philippine-flagged vessel from its exact location.
The robot will also help determine the tanker's condition, he said.
About 88,958 acres of coral reef, mangroves and sea-grass could be affected by the oil slick, according to Filipino marine scientists.
Japan has also sent a team of coast guard personnel to help in the clean up, according to the Philippines' disaster agency, while five U.S. coast guard personnel have arrived to assist with the spill response, the U.S. embassy said.