The Panama-flagged bulk carrier ‘Belle Rose’ ran aground at Monad Shoal, a marine ecotourism attraction in the Philippine island province of Cebu.
Officials from the Philippine Coast Guard and the Cebu provincial government also state that the 183-metre, 29,104-tonne ‘Belle Rose’ ended up damaging 2.4 hectares of corals in the waters just north of the province prior to running aground.
The ‘Belle Rose’ was carrying 48,000 tonnes of cement powder from Tsukimi, Japan, to the town of San Fernando, also in Cebu.
The ship is alleged to have changed course to avoid colliding into small fishing boats that lay along the route as it entered the waters off Cebu. However, this is yet to be confirmed as a thorough inspection of the structure has not yet been conducted.
Initial reports state the ‘Belle Rose’ sustained damage in the form of three leaks and holes though no indications of oil spill were found.
The waters off Monad Shoal have become popular not only as a dive site, but also as one of the few places in the world where large numbers of thresher sharks can be spotted.
However, diving and other ecotourism activities in the area have been temporarily suspended until local authorities determine how to salvage the vessel without risking further damage to the marine environment.
Nelson E. Dela Cruz