Divers safe from pesticide from MV Princess of the Stars

Friday, June 27, 2008

Divers from the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy were given a clean bill of health from any effects from the toxic waters surrounding the sunken passenger ferry, MV Princess of the Stars off the coast of Romblon province.

Fifty six diving personnel tasked to retrieve bodies of passengers trapped inside the ferry will undergo more tests on Saturday for any ill effects from pesticides that are suspected to have leaked in the cargo hold of the ferry.

Retrieval operations for the bodies of passengers were suspended on Friday when the cargo manifest of the ship showed large quantities of a highly toxic pesticide called endosulfan.

Authorities feared that the pesticides could have contaminated the waters around the sunken ferry and could prove fatal to the diving crew.

Divers started to complain on Thursday of experiencing skin irritation after surfacing.

The Philippines government slammed the ferry's owners for not immediately divulging the contents of the ferry's cargo hold and threatened to add other possible criminal charges against the owners.

Environment officials are concerned that the pesticide could cause a severe damage to the delicate aquatic environment around Romblon province.