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AFTER USS GUARDIAN | Chinese vessel runs aground in Tubbataha

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE - 3:35 p.m.) As wreckage of the US minesweeper USS Guardian had just been removed at Tubbataha Reef, another vessel, this time Chinese, ran aground at the marine protected area in Palawan. 

A report from Tubbataha parks superintendent Angelique Songco said the Chinese fishing vessel with hull number 63168 ran aground some 1.1 nautical miles east of the Tubbataha Reef ranger station. 

The fishing vessel had 12 crewmembers, allegedly Chinese poachers.  

The Philippine Coast Guard said the incident occurred shortly before midnight Tuesday. 

The ship's crew "most probably are Chinese poachers and illegal entrants," the Coast Guard said. 

A Coast Guard rescue vessel, SARV 3503, was deployed to the area to investigate. 

Songco was supposed to fly out to the area where the Chinese vessel had run aground on Tuesday afternoon but the flight was canceled because of the weather.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista said they were waiting for high tide to float the Chinese vessel so it could be towed to Puerto Princesa City where the crew will be investigated.

The USS Guardian ran aground the reef last January 17 and it took more than two months to remove the wreckage. The Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board earlier assessed the damage left by the USS Guardian at the reef to be at 2,345.67 square meters. A fine of P58.4 million will be imposed on the US Navy. 

Four USS Guardian officers were also relieved because of the incident.

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