Divers from Titan Salvage and Harbor Star have successfully cut a small hole through the hull of the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars on Thursday, the second day of retrieval operations for the chemical cargo inside the ship.
The Task Force Princess of the Stars, in a statement, said the salvors first surveyed the capsized ferry to determine where the toxic cargo is located - first by using a ROVO, remote operated videocamera, which surveyed the inside of the ship, and then via the divers. The divers were then able to cut an opening close to the target container.
"On our 2nd full working day, we managed to cut a 1 meter by 1.5 meters opening at the starboard (right) side of the ship, 1 meter away from the container of the endosulfan. If the good weather holds till tomorrow (Friday), we will be able to make the opening 2 x 2.5 meters, allowing divers to go in," Capt. Roberto Aris of Harbor Star was quoted as saying.
The task force said the divers will survey the cargo hold and determine the best way to extract the toxic cargo, which was shipped by Del Monte Philippines and Bayer Philippines.
"Once a full survey of the cargo hold area has been done by the divers, we will have a concrete plan on how best to remove the target cargo identified to be toxic," Aris
The task force also said the water around the container and inside the cargo hold tested negative for endosulfan.
The Philippine Coast Guard also said marine life under the ship was also reported as normal by the divers, citing the presence of numerous fish in the area.
The Coast Guard also said Titan's divers have not yet encountered any dead bodies during their dive.
The salvors are speeding up their retrieval operations for fear that an oncoming typhoon might affect the weather in the area and hamper their operations anew.
Delays due to bad weather
The retrieval operations for the chemical cargo entombed inside the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars commenced Wednesday, after almost a week of delays due to bad weather.
Titan Salvage, the salvaging company contracted by the ship's owner Sulpicio Lines, and its local counterpart Harbor Star on Wednesday started surveying the capsized ferry, located off the coast of San Fernando, Romblon.
The survey is part of retrieval operations for the chemical cargo inside the ship, which include the pesticide endosulfan and several other containers of dangerous chemicals.
The survey was done to study where the divers and their equipment would best pass through to get to the ship's cargo hold, where the chemicals are located.
Titan and Harbor Star said they will work faster to be on schedule after almost a week of delays due to rough seas.
On Tuesday, retrieval operations were delayed due to heavy downpour that also caused the collapse of two bridges connecting the town of San Fernando to the site of the shipwreck.
The only activity performed Tuesday was to check the moors connecting the "Big Time" barge, the salvaging firms' working platform beside the capsized ship, to see if these were still intact and the anchors secure. With a report from Rupert Ambil, ABS-CBN News